This morning I sat at our dining room table enjoying a time of quietness that is so rare lately in my mornings. I am usually busy completing morning tasks before heading out the door for work. This morning I didn’t have to go to work. As I sat by myself, letting my mind wander, my eyes settled on the basket that I keep a few books in so they are an easy reach should I desire to sit at the table and color or read or write. Sitting inside the basket was my Bible that I use for personal reading. This is not the Bible I take with me when I go to church; this is a Bible that I’ve had for many years. I thought about the days I enjoyed opening the pages of that Bible, reading and taking it all in. I felt so close to God in those moments.
That was not the case this morning. In fact, as I reflected on the last several months, I felt very far from God. Actually, I felt God was very far from me. I don’t think those statements say the same thing.
I opened my Bible to my favorite book–Psalms. Specifically, this morning it was Psalm 63. The little subtitle told me that this Psalm was written while David was in the desert of Judah. I didn’t take the time to research why he was there, but I assumed he was fleeing from someone who wanted him dead. He is most likely alone. He is also most likely without basic essentials–possibly items such as water and shade. David opens this Psalm of prayer to God, though, with words that do not ask for any material item for himself. He actually doesn’t ask God for anything. Instead, he tells God how he loves God and how much he needs God. He uses the word thirst to describe how he longs for God. It is a viable thought that David was indeed physically thirsty. He was in a desert after all. But, he doesn’t ask God for water. He asks God for God. David wanted God to fill him spiritually; he placed his spiritual desire for communion with God over his physical desire for water.
Reading this Psalm caused me to reflect on what I thirst for. The thirsts I have determine how I act. If I am physically thirsty, I reach for a cold Diet Coke. Sometimes my thirst is not for something palpable. I sometimes thirst for purpose–what difference do I make in anyone’s life? I am often lonely, which makes me thirst for companionship. I also thirst for healing. Some days I wake up but wish I hadn’t. The thorn of depression is beyond oppressive. The uncertainty of a chronic illness along with potential diagnoses next week makes me long for God to intervene. So far He hasn’t. I often thirst for wisdom to know how to navigate the stormy waters of life. Courage is another thirst that begs to be quenched in me–courage to step out of my comfort zone in varying areas. I also often thirst for acceptance. I am an outside-of-the-box kind of person. Most people don’t understand the way I think which causes them to view me as just strange. They go on their merry way with others like them. I recently started reading a book titled Different: The story of an Outside-of-the-Box kid and the Mom who Loved Him. I see myself all over the pages of this book. I also thirst for spiritual direction. The Israelites could follow God confidently because God was in a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. I often wish God would do that for me. Instead I struggle to know how to “follow” a God I am unable to see.
I could list other thirsts, but most likely my point is made. I have looked to many different places to quench these thirsts. I have looked to people to ease the pain of loneliness and acceptance. When people let me down, I turned to alcohol to ease the pain. That let me down as well. Intellectually I know that only God can quench these thirsts, but experientially I have no idea how that actually happens.