By Emmanuel Egbunu
Intimacy with God has become such a remote concern among Christians in our day that one wonders how we expect to spend eternity with the God to whom many of us are estranged virtually all through life.
“The world is too much with us” says William Wordsworth, the English poet, “late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
Generation after generation churns out endless treasures that soon become our obsessions and distractions till we begin to live the pagan and foolish life that says, or behaves as if, there is no God.
The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 42 about his yearning for God: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Panting gives the picture of a desperate search, a hunger, a yearning, a longing to be satisfied. The Psalmist’s thirst for God is likened to that of a deer panting for springs of water. Where real thirst is involved, nothing but water can truly quench that thirst. God is that ever-flowing fountain, the spring of life – fresh and refreshing. His blessings are all over creation, but none can take the place of God.
This is where many Christians need to rethink our values. We sing in our doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” and yet we behave all the time as if the blessings from God are more important to us than God Himself. As Keith Green, the late Gospel artiste once sang, “Bless me Lord, Bless me Lord, is all I ever hear”
This lack of real hunger and great thirst for God betrays a strange satisfaction with other things which have replaced God, and that is dangerous. Taking an analogy from the manna provided in the wilderness, only fresh supplies were safe and healthy. Stale manna was dangerous. The song of saints through the ages has always been, “Bread of heaven, feed me till I want (lack) no more”
“My soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” The Psalmist is not combining God with anyone or anything else – not “God and ...” because God will tolerate no rivals.
Is it at all realistic and practical in our generation to have such a thirst for God? Opinions will vary. There are many competing treasures. Those who have never found this fountain that God is, never know that there is such satisfaction that nothing else can provide: Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him (Ps 34:8). John Newton, the hymn writer comes in with his lines,
See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.
He concludes the theme in these words, Fading is the world’s best pleasure, /All its boasted pomp and show; /Solid joys and lasting treasure,/ None but Zion’s children know.
In life’s pilgrimage, it takes the one who has gone to God with his soul’s hunger and thirst to discover that the world’s best pleasure is nothing to be compared with the solid joys and lasting treasure waiting in God’s open arms to satisfy us.
David found such joy in God when he used the words in Psalm 18:1-2, “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” To Him, God was EVERYTHING! When the Lord Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6), this thought must have been close to His heart.