Today’s reflection comes to you from Rev’d Willie.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land there is no water.
On farms all around the country cows are calving and ewes are lambing; it is the season of new birth. Farm life is hectic but full of joy and excitement. In these days of being locked in I envy the farmer still working his milking parlour, his calving pens, his lambing sheds and his fields. What freedom nature affords him!
It is years now since I was a regular dairy farmer, incidentally some of best years of my life both spiritually and physically, but the image of a calf or lamb trying to stand and make their first faltering steps will never leave me. The purpose of those steps was simple: to get latched on at their mother’s udder. They instinctively knew that to survive in life they needed the nutrition of their mother’s milk. Getting that first milk was so important, as it literally determined whether the calf or the lamb was to going live or die. New-borns are thirsty for life! They earnestly seek milk; the ‘uisce na beatha’ (water of life) for them.
It’s the image which came to mind when earlier this morning I reread the first verse of one of my favourite Psalms; ‘I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you’. (Psalm 63:1)
I believe in the dry and parched land which we now inhabit there is a new thirst and longing for God! I am sensing as a church and as a nation we are thirsty, or at least more open, to experience God’s presence and reality in new ways. The God many may have considered as a possibility, someone worthy of discussion at a dinner party but nothing more, has become suddenly a more urgent and pressing consideration.
The Psalmist begins with an affirmation of his faith; a statement of his commitment and belief. He writes: ‘God, you are my God’. In so many ways an experience of the presence of God begins when we acknowledge him for who he is: ‘God’. Yet it is more than just an acknowledgement of his deity that is needed; the key here is that he says ‘my God’. A declaration of faith is the key!
For the thirsty, in this dry and parched land, where sadness, hopelessness and fear are the currency we seem increasingly to exchange, there is a gentle shift in worldview going on; God is on the agenda! God is welcome! God is back!
In truth he never moved; it was us in Ireland who moved. God used this island to be the seed that sowed faith across Europe and he never departed from us, but we departed from him. He’s back not because he went away, but because we are earnestly seeking him ‘in a dry and parched’ time in our history.
The beginning of satisfying our thirst for something secure and solid, something foundational, something that is an oasis in the wilderness, is found in declaring with Thomas the doubter: ‘My Lord and my God’. Note ‘My God’. It is that decision that we see in Ruth when she declares her faith in God to Naomi with the words: ‘Your God shall be my God and your people shall be my people”.
As humanity now brushes with its own mortality, even the whisper of it, and looks at the lives of those who are sure and certain of God, is it not the time to step over the line and say to your faith-filled Christian friend ‘your God shall be my God and your people shall be my people’? The thirst for purpose and peace is found in Christ and Christ alone. The world will offer much, but in the end delivers little by way of lasting hope or comfort!
Step over the line is the invitation of God. Step into my Kingdom. Believe and declare with your lips ‘Jesus is Lord’. There begins the adventure. In this adventure we discover that God waters and hydrates our souls in such a way as to give us a new sense of security, reality and purpose; a new life. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 Pauls puts it well: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (NLT). For many of us this new life is something we have already tasted, but with Psalmist we have grown cold towards God and now know the need of him afresh!
The legs of a new-born lamb and calf shake unsteadily until they drink the milk which sustains. At a time when the blow of covid 19 has shaken our legs, shaken humanity to its very core; we are longing to be steadied again. There is one only place we will find that steadying hand. That hand is the hand of God.
The life entrusted to God the Father is lived as it was destined to be lived!
The soul that thirsts for peace will find it nowhere else, but in the person of Christ!
The heart that’s broken, will know no comfort like that of the Holy Spirit!
Pray it with me: ‘God, you are my God’!