As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long people say to me, “Where is your God? ” ‘ Psalm 42:1-3
We are consumers. I have often heard this associated with American culture, but having lived overseas, I believe it’s a human condition, not exclusively an American one. The human soul has an insatiable appetite. The problem with our appetite is that it often consumes us before we ever find something that truly satisfies our cravings.
We are hardwired to be needy creatures. In fact, God made us all that way. So where do we go wrong? If our appetites are God given, how can they also be dangerous? In our broken world, there are a thousand voices telling us what to consume to fulfill our longings. We are even told that our faith will fulfill our longings. Many of us began a relationship with God with the hopes that he would help us get the life that we long for. Ideas like, if I am good enough and spiritual enough, God will bless me with an amazing life. We wouldn’t say it that way, but if we are honest, God is a means to an end.
Longing isn’t wrong. I’ve already said that God gave it to us. Psalm 42 demonstrates that unquenchable need, “as a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you.” We are conditioned to believe that it is comfort, things, or experiences that will make us happy but we’ve been duped. Our longing is actually for relationship. Ultimately it’s a longing for perfect relationship with God and others. Notice what the psalmist longs for. He longs for God. His sadness is that others are telling him that his longing is misplaced. They ask him, “where is your God?” God’s presence is what your soul truly longs for. You may not believe that. You may know that in your head but struggle to believe it in your heart. Relationship with God is possible. I’m not talking about a distant theoretical relationship based on a mental ascent that saves us from hell. I am talking about a conversational relationship with God.
Are you living as if God were a vending machine? Are you in this to get something from God or are you in it to get him? If your soul doesn’t currently want to be with God, don’t panic, don’t beat yourself up. That realization is the first step to shifting your desires to a more fulfilling place. Evaluate where you are and then ask God to open your heart to the value that his presence actually brings.
By Aaron Bjorklund