In the desert


Psalm 63

O God, you are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
    my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
    where there is no water.

I know that I will come out of the rut because I know God has not forsaken me.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

They who seek my life will be destroyed;
    they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
    and become food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God’s name will praise him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Earlier this week, my colleague took worship about being stuck in a rut. She described it like being bogged and the harder you try to get out, the further you sink into muck and mire. She spoke of how life can become habitual and we can take it for granted. Your life loses its shine, productivity slows, relationships become hard and you can get stuck in a spiral.

David knew all about what it was like to hit a bit of a rut. He found himself hiding in the desert—betrayed, persecuted and feeling pretty purposeless. Yet it seems that the loss he feels most is his spiritual connection with God. The desert is a metaphor for his own parched soul. He seeks God earnestly. He has seen God, seen His power, seen His glory. When he has nothing to eat, he is sustained by God; when he cannot sleep, he dwells on what God has done for him.

It got me thinking about my own rut—my spiritual rut. It’s happened to me before and it will happen again. I’m sure it’s happened to you. At times, I study the Word and feel like the disciples on their way to Emmaus. The penny drops and it’s like Jesus himself is explaining it to me, speaking truth into my life, shedding light on what I need to change, encouraging me and exhorting me and enabling me. At other times, I feel alone, dry, used up. I read the Bible and try to apply it to my life. It is like a sun shower in the desert, it dries up and moves on and it feels like nothing has happened. I can’t concentrate to pray, can’t focus my mind on what the Spirit is saying.

Times like this can be hard for a Christian. I know they are hard for me. It’s not because I’m particularly sinful or pulling away from God. It’s not because I don’t set time aside or want to learn more about Him. And I still have a burning desire to reclaim future family members for His kingdom. Yet I still have hope and faith and love. I know I am blessed. There is a kernel of peace in my heart. I know that I will come out of the rut because I know God has not forsaken me.

Like David, who looks forward to God establishing him again and dealing with his enemies, this psalm encourages me to focus on the future and God’s promises. I focus on the past and what God has done for me, how far He has brought me, how He turned my life around and gave me purpose. And for the present? Well I just need to keep on “earnestly” seeking. Maybe, just maybe those summer showers are not wasted in the desert. Soon the seeds will sprout, the grass will grow and rain will come to a dry and barren land.

Dear Lord,

My prayer is David’s. I seek for you and I know I will find you because you never left. Whatever it is that is separating us, I pray you take it away and revive my life like rain in the desert. Thank you for your everlasting love. I will praise you as long as I live, even in the desert, for all you have done. Thank you for being my strength. Amen.