1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
This week in our regular student ministry staff meeting, we opened with a quick devotional thought from our high school director, Dave. He read the first couple of verses just to get us thinking about our relationship with Jesus and what that should/can look like. He focused in on what it means to be thirsty and how sometimes we try to quench our thirst with beverages that don’t actually help us when all we really want and need is water. It was a striking comparison and I think it’s really true, and it got me thinking about what it takes to be thirsty, like really thirsty.
It is remarkable to think about the times that I have been most desperate for water and acutely aware of how thirsty I had really gotten. I can remember times from as intensely difficult as laboring in the hot sun in Mexico building houses and drinking cold ice water that tasted better than anything in the world, to times as silly as after having drank many cups of coffee staying up working on a paper for school and realizing how parched I let myself get without thinking about it. Each of those times stands out because of how desperate I found myself and how my need for water was so pronounced by my situation.
The times we become the most thirsty are the times where we have worked so hard that our body has worked out all the moisture we have depended on to get us there or the times of trial and struggle (like a literal desert situation) when we notice the absence of refreshment in our lives.
In our spiritual lives, the same is also true. The times when I have noticed my desire for God and my own spiritual panting after Him have been in times where I have either felt overwhelmed from working for God or when my life has been rocked by challenges and struggles. It takes a vigorous workout to drive us to the panting place of thirstiness in our physical lives, but how often do we find ourselves in that place spiritually?
Do I thirst after God with the sweaty satisfaction of hard work done and seeing how He is using me to be His presence in the world today? Am I feeling drained by the ministry set in front of me forcing me to turn to God alone for my strength and satisfaction? I know my acceptance by Christ is based on His work and not my own, but am I working hard enough to really need Him in my life in a way that would make me pant after Him?
As much as I hate the running metaphors to describe the spiritual journey, I recognize how apt a symbol it is at the end of a race with the perseverance of an endurance runner to be standing there panting and out of breath and desiring nothing more than the satisfaction of a cold glass of water. How good it will be to say:
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
May I long after God with the panting desire of one who is worn out and in need of Him alone for satisfaction.