Monday, 11/1/21 – Panting through the Pandemic

Panting through the Pandemic

A popular worship song by Maranatha proclaims, “As the deer panteth for the water / So my soul longeth after Thee. / You alone are my heart’s desire / And I long to worship Thee”

The words are those of the sons of Korah, taken from the first verse or two of Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps. 42:1-2)

The song is a lovely expression of the heart’s longing to reach out to God, an acknowledgment of the pliants need for Him, of one’s reliance and dependence upon Him for life and spiritual sustenance. But it does not grow out of a sense of joyous nearness to Him: in fact, it grows from quite the opposite. It grows from the psalmist’s experience of great absence of His Presence, his experience of a great depression in his soul.

My tears have been my food day and night,” he laments. “I remember…how I used to go to the house of God… with shouts of joy and praise.” But now his acquaintances mock him. “Where is your God?” they scoff.

This son of Korah is bewildered, downcast and very depressed! “Why, my soul, are you downcast? / Why so disturbed within me? He says to himself “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him.” He likens the depth of his soul’s longing to waves and breakers bursting and calling out to what he knows of the ocean depth of God’s goodness and love. He cries out “Why have you forgotten me? / Why must I go about mourning…” and he questions his soul once again “Why, my soul, are you downcast? / Why so disturbed within me?” He reiterates his former self plea, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Animals both wild and domestic do not need lessons in panting. Thirst immediately prompts the quest for water. Finding it, they instinctively know what to do. This psalm ends with the author still panting… still desperate. He writes another… and concludes it with the very same plea,

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? / Why so disturbed within me? / Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Ps. 43:5).

Perhaps you are feeling somewhat like him. Four times now we have hoped this pandemic was ending, yet four times this hope turned again to despair… bewilderment… depression. Let me encourage you to persist… to speak challenge to both your weary soul and the souls of others and affirm “I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Believers are in this world Christ’s Ambassadors… light and salt… bearers of hope to a hope-less humanity. Even now you know for Whom you pant. Many others do not. “Come now… rise… let us be going…” (c.f. John 14:31).

More tomorrow…

To hear this past Sunday’s message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.

Monday, 7/12/21 – Pressing on… God as you least Expect Him

God as you least Expect Him

Yesterday Pastor Andrew spoke on one of the more familiar passages to many Christians, 2 Tim. 3:16. I will follow my usual format and comment on that tomorrow, but today my thoughts led me to something different…

If we really want God we will not care whether He comes to us in a mighty rushing wind or in a still, small voice. We will not demand He comes with majestic glory, nor mind if He comes by speaking through an ass… or even an enemy!  Do you desire God to come to you enough that you would receive Him in a form you despise today?

“If we continually try to bring back those exceptional moments of inspiration, it is a sign that it is not God we want. We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to “walk by faith.” How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, “I cannot do anything else until God appears to me”? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, “Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!” Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 1 entry.

God, coming to us in a way we least expect, seems often to be His way: a burning bush, a smoky cloud, a tower of fire, a harlot, a 7-day march, a terrified Abiezrite, a blinding light, a dream in the night, a helpless baby.

No parent will give their child the car keys before the child has been proven to drive responsibly. To do so could very well result in destruction of the child. Until then, the child must simply learn to walk. Similarly, Chalmers notes, “God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them.” Until then, we must simply learn to walk. Walking is the norm. Driving is privilege. It will do a child no good to stand and shout tantrums demanding a car! Doing so only further demonstrates the child’s present immaturity.

If a Christian truly wants to travel with Christ he will not care about their mode of transportation. To our delight, when we content ourselves with this, we find He is ever with us, even while trudging along on stony paths.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s Sunday message, go to the Facebook page of Lincoln Baptist Church, or link to the livestream from the church website.