As a deer pants for the streams, so my soul pants for you.
I’ve been feeling a million and two miles away from God the last two weeks. And of course I would – I haven’t been spending time in His Word or in intimate prayer with Him. The canyon between us was from my choices, not from His abandonment. Sunday morning I finally decided to do something about this and decided to set time in the afternoon aside to “be real” with God. Awfully nice of me to fit Him into my schedule. I was finally willing to be dealt with in the most beautiful of ways, and give Him the anxieties I’ve been trying to deal with on my own but instead have made a giant jumbled mess of. Think a toddler playing with glue and cotton balls. A big. Poofy. Sticky mess. It’s not rare to slip away from deep relationship with God and it’s certainly happened to me before, but for me it was nothing really solid prayer time couldn’t fix. He has never kept His peace from me when I sought it.
Sunday afternoon when I “entered into my prayer time” I hit a wall. Not like I bumped into a wall, like I’m traveling at 80 mph and SLAM into a brick wall and it breaks all my bones. In a way that I hadn’t experienced before, God felt absent. I felt like I was talking to myself. I felt like He wasn’t even near me, let alone listening to me. I felt a separation from God. My initial reaction was anger. Anger is really genuine and we’re allowed to be that authentic with God, He loves our honesty, but at the same time I have to shake my head at myself thinking of how bold it is to be disappointed in how God is being God. I mean, where do I get off? Anyway.
I’m angry because I feel like He’s left me. Because He left me and He said He would never do that. Because He called me away from my home and my best friends and everything that is familiar to me and then.. He left me. Note that I’m completely ignoring all the blessings that He has brought into my life these last 6 months — but somehow in my anger I don’t think of any of those. I’m angry because I feel like I’m experiencing a separation from God — literally, Hell.
But something is amiss. Even a little wonky. Because I’ve read God’s Word. I know that He doesn’t leave His children. I know He doesn’t get irritated with my selfishness and ditch me. I know He doesn’t just cut me off because I have the world’s worst singing voice (no, like, seriously). And more than that, God doesn’t have a list of expectations of His children and then abandon them when they fall short. If He did, we would all be abandoned a hundred times over by now.
So my anger switches to problem solving: God hasn’t left me. But I feel like He did. That doesn’t add up. Something is wrong.
I’m reminded of The Psalms. David and the other authors and I are kindred spirits. Roller coasters of emotions. Extremists through and through. One chapter is about being abandoned by God. The next one rejoices at His goodness. Psalm 42 is one of my favorites, so much so that I have a tattoo on my leg based off of verse 1.
1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation 6 and my God.
As a deer pants for the stream, SO MY SOUL PANTS FOR YOU. The intensity of that verse gets lots on me because I rattle it off so often when people ask “So what’s with the tattoo of the deer?”. But this verse is intense. And severe. And accurate. Separating my soul from it’s wellspring of life is like living in a desert with no water. The way that a deer needs water to survive, so does my soul for it’s creator. So my soul must be drenched in Him. So my soul needs Him. So my soul can not go on – can not live, can not thrive, can not function without Him.
My soul felt in turmoil. My brain and my body and my emotions all felt in turmoil. Feeling that far away from my source of life pained me in every sense. I realized that I needed to drink Him — that I needed to be held by Him, that I needed Him near me, that I needed to stop “prayer time” which consisted of my manipulative requests and half hearted praises and “hey God, sorry I haven’t been praying very much lately”. Instead I needed to sit at the throne of my heavenly Father and focus on Him only.
I pray that you too know the joy – the unparalleled quenching ability – of panting after God. Of trading in “prayer time” for basking in His presence. Of letting your soul find it’s true soulmate.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.