Psalm 63:1 documents the words that leaked from David’s heart during his time in the Judean desert: "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. "
The desert, or "wilderness" as it is sometimes referred to in scripture, is noted as a place of spiritual testing, preparation, and/or undisturbed communion with God. In Numbers, Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert (or wilderness) for forty years as God worked to purge them of their idolatry, half-heartedness, and polytheism.
The Gospel writer Matthew records that John the Baptist, "came preaching in the wilderness of Judea" (Matthew 3:1) and that "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." (Matthew 4:1)
So we see throughout scripture that the desert (or wilderness) is established as a place of spiritual significance.
And now David finds himself surrounded by these same blistering desert elements crying out to God. Then he draws an interesting parallel between his parched surroundings and the condition of his soul. He acknowledges that just as the desert sand begs for water, his soul in like fashion thirsts for God's presence.
We all should be aware of this great need, too, but we aren’t. And if we are aware, all too often we try to satisfy this dryness through means other than intimacy with God.
Why am I talking about this on a worship blog? Well, can we really worship God wholeheartedly if our desire is not completely toward Him? Worship is an all-or-nothing proposition. Spiritual dryness is a direct result of a lack of God's influence in our lives. Our desire for God is the barometer for our worship — it's critical to worship. We cannot truly worship unless we desire Him.
Think about it this way…
We all know that water is a biological necessity — without it we can’t live. But, despite knowing this reality, most of us often need a reminder to drink — our thirst. More than that, our level of thirst is drastically affected by the external conditions to which we are exposed.
In one church where I served, we provided iced bottled water to the congregation during services. Most often, people would file in and out of each service without so much as a glance in the direction of the water. This was especially true during cooler seasons. However, in the summer months, these same water stations were nearly empty. Why? The warmer temperatures created a thirst in people for more water.
So what's the deal?
In a word — desire.
The bottled water didn't change, but the congregation’s desire for it did. Similarly, God is immutable. He does not change. But our desire for Him does.
David understood this about himself and the people he was leading. He recognized that his pursuit of God was only in proportion to his level of desire for Him. The words of Psalm 63:1 marked David's life; may they mark us as well.
Seeking God is not only an action, but also a condition of the human soul. As we learn to direct our desire toward God and drink deeply from His presence, we also chart a course for others to follow.
When it comes to seeking God, I agree with the Sprite slogan: "Obey Your Thirst."