Craving His Presence
Lately, I've had a distinct craving simply to be in God's presence. Honestly, I don't regularly "feel" that longing. When it comes, I savor it immensely.
I've read and re-read Psalm 84 nearly every night before I go to sleep for the past few weeks, because it encapsulates so fully what my soul longs for:
"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
"Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise.
"For a day in your courts is like a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked" (Psalm 84:1-2, 4, 10).
I have found myself periodically humming the fourth movement of Brahms' German Requiem ("How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place") as I lay in bed at night, watching the sun set behind the trees outside my window. Their slender, just-budding branches reach like arms into the chilly nighttime air; the cluster of trees appear like worshipers yearning to live into that longing for their Lord.
Like these bare and reaching trees, we hunger for our creating, redeeming, and sustaining God. We were made for him, and our hearts are truly restless until they find their rest in the One who alone can satisfy them.
Still, it is so easy for me to approach the Lord with my laundry list of wishes. I pray prayers full of good intentions, but also full of busyness and business. These are good and right prayers. They have a place before the throne of our Lord who attends to the details of the frailest of his creatures.
But they are also prayers that scratch the surface of my need. I come to God full of restlessness that I assume will be calmed by the Lord's action on my behalf. I want him to fix stuff for me, but I don't necessarily want (or have the time for!) HIM. "Oh Lord, help me in this... please do that for me... I know that all will be well once this issue gets resolved." It's a common pattern of relating for a creature to get stuck in. As a creature, I have a limited imagination of my place and His place in the grand narrative that he is writing.
But there are moments in our lives, perhaps less frequent than we care to admit, that we find our loving Lord prompting us to reach deeper and further. He beckons us to feel the restlessness of our hearts in a more piercing way. We are led to feel and know truths about our need for him, and to push into his very presence. When we begin to truly feel the restlessness of our hearts that is deeper and far more real than our messy house or our busy lives, we are finally able to discover his utter sufficiency to satisfy and fill us with Himself.
You may feel dry and brittle in your heart. You are in need of a soaking rain of God himself. You may not even feel longing for him. But I can assure you, you do. It's easy to confuse our thirst for our good and gracious God, triune in being, with a host of other things, people, ideas, and beliefs. It's also easy for the cares of this world, and of our crooked little hearts, to stifle the holy longings that a heart made for God has for God.
Press in deeper, gentle reader. Press in deeper. Meditate on the names of God. Savor them like honey in your mouth. Whether you feel it or not, it is his presence that you desperately crave.