Back in the dark ages, the year 1985 to be exact, I had the privilege to serve as a Student Assistant Minister at The Wesley Foundation on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. The Campus Minister, the Rev. Mark Girard, had offered me the position so I could check out what he felt was my calling to ministry. Before the fall semester began, Mark and some of us student leaders went on a retreat to Lake Junaluska (the capital of Southern United Methodism) in western North Carolina. There, nestled in amongst the Smokey Mountains, we spent several days in prayer and planning for the upcoming year. And while there I came across a small devotional book by the Christian writer Lois Cheney (no relation to our former VP). One of my favorite devotions from the book also provides the text with its title. Cheney wrote:
They say that God has infinite patience,
and that is a great comfort.
They say God is always there,
and that is a deep satisfaction.
They say that God will always take you back,
and get lazy in that certainty.
They say that God never gives up,
and I count on that.
They say that you can go away for years and years,
and God will be there, waiting, when you come home.
They say you can make mistake after mistake,
and God will always forgive and forget.
They say lots of things,
these people who have never read the Old Testament.
There comes a time, a definite, for sure time,
when God turns around.
I don’t believe God shed his skin
when Christ brought in the New Testament;
Christ showed us a new side of God,
and it is truly wonderful.
But Christ didn’t change God.
God remains forever and ever
and that God
from God Is No Fool, Lois A. Cheney, Copyright 1969, Abingdon Books, pages 55-56
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1As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
2My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
I would bet that most of really wish we felt the way that the psalmist who penned these words felt, but there are times we have to admit that most of the time our longings and thirsts are not for the Holy One. No, we long for money, prestige, power, respect, love, recognition . . . and I could go on and on here. The list is almost limitless. Yet even so, can we honestly say the list includes God? Not very often.
So let our prayer be this: God, make me long for your presence in my life. Make me thirsty for your Spirit and life in me.
Of course with a prayer like this, you just might want to cross your fingers or say under your breath, “Just kidding, Lord.” After all, what if God took us seriously if and when we prayed these words? That, my friends, is a scary thought and worth pondering before we commit ourselves to any prayer, let alone the one above.
Today’s Featured Verses – Psalm 50:16-17
But I will sing of your might;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been a fortress for me
and a refuge on the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love. (NRSV)
Today there is more John the Baptist and more of God’s judgment. Reading all these passages at one time is almost too much to take, and so I have decided to quote two verses which are non-judgmental in emphasis from Psalm 50. After you have read the rest, perhaps you, like me, will need to pause for a moment or two to reflect on God’s steadfast love and providence.
And after you have read today’s passages and reread the verses above a few times, pause for a moment to remember this simple fact: “The one who judges us, sent his only son to die for us.” This shows us all the steadfast and amazing depth of God’s love.