by Lois Tverberg
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
“O God, you are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
my soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water. ” – Psalm 63:1
Many athletes have heard the advice, “Drink before you’re thirsty!” We were told this often on our trip to Israel in July, where we experienced many days around 100° F, and did much walking and hiking. A few who didn’t comply experienced the effects of dehydration – nausea, headache, dizziness, and even a lack of desire to drink, even though their bodies needed fluids badly. A couple people even needed fluids by IV at a local clinic. David’s words about his thirst were very palpable to us when we stood in the bleak Judean wilderness where he wrote this Psalm.
David was speaking about being thirsty for a sense of the presence of the Lord in his life. We’ve all had this feeling – about having a need for intimacy with God. In our times of prayer, study or worship, we take a “drink” of living water when we sense God’s closeness and his hand leading our lives. When we are in times of stress, or emotional turmoil, we can become spiritually “dehydrated,” and our thirst for God gets much greater.
Interestingly, drinking before you’re thirsty is very wise advice, spiritually too. When we are in a stressful situation that demands our time, often the first thing to go is the time to pray. Even when we do pray, our stressed-out minds have a hard time relaxing and listening for God to speak to us. As a result, we get thirstier and thirstier. We think that God should come closer because we need him, but he seems to feel farther away. Just like water sometimes is even repulsive to a dehydrated person, we can even start avoiding prayer – feeling that God must be so disgusted by our weak commitment that we don’t deserve to pray. We can truly become spiritually ill from lack of “living water.”
True wisdom is to keep drinking a little at a time, before the heat and stress come. We need to keep seeking out the Lord while times are good, before we are desperate. But, no matter how far we have gone from him, we can be assured if we bring him our empty cup, he will fill it with himself.