Sunday, February 10, 2013

God's Table

" As the hart panteth after the water brooks, 
so panteth my soul after thee, O God."
Psalm 42:1

I sat on the beach overlooking the incoming tide.
Watching the Gulf's waters rise and fall.
Hearing their pounding on the shore.
There was in my spirit a longing.
A craving.
An intense, deep hunger....
to find my Creator.
To talk with Him.
To hear His voice.
To sense His presence.

So jaded was life.
So tired was I....
of the chaos that surrounded my existence.
I searched for peace.
I longed for inward rest...
that would sustain me..
and not leave in the days to come.

My parents were arguing.
Home was, at the moment, not a place I wanted to be.
The stress-charged atmosphere was smothering the life out of me.
I had no space.
The tiny apartment I had rented was my only shred of independence.
Now I was being overruled.
My little haven was being taken over,
jerked out from under me, 
ripped from my grasp...
like I didn't have any say in it...
at all.

So, what to do?

I sat on the rock...
on the deserted beach.
Wind sweeping long hair.
Drying quickly-falling tears...
almost as quickly as they fell.
How I longed to just fly away...
on its wings...
through the turbulent, stormy skies...
and be at rest.

Why was life so complicated?
Why did people have to be so controlling?
Why did the fact that I had feelings, too, 
seem to so completely evade...
those around me?

I had no voice.
That they could hear....
or even wanted to.

I turned my face upward...
closed my eyes....
spoke with my heart.

My mouth didn't move.
Just my soul.
He heard....
sensed my hunger....
for Him.

He washed me clean.
Dried my tears.
Brought calm.
I stayed as long as I could.
The sun was setting...
I watched it disappear...
melt into the waves.

I climbed down off the rock 
and turned to go....
dreading to go back.
Wishing things were different.
Knowing they wouldn't be.
But, I was different.
I was filled.
With His presence.
So, I could go on.

Today, life is so opposite.
I am so blessed.
And content.
And happy.
God has led to much greener pastures.

One thing has not changed.

I am still hungry.

As I prayed this morning,
I told God so.

Jesus said, during His sermon on the mount,
recorded in Matthew chapter 5,
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:
 for they shall be filled."

I hunger for Him...every, single day.
In calm or chaos.
In grief or joy.
Whatever the external.
My heart craves...
longs for...
seeks after....

He fills me to the point of overflowing.
To the point of feeling I will never hunger for Him again.
But I do.
Each day, the hunger is fresh.
Like I've never been filled before.

I need God.
I find I need Him more and more each day.
I crave His presence.
When I feel separated from Him,
due to the stuff of life,
I sense a strong, inward tug...
to find a place alone.

My heart often sings the song,
"Thinking, Lord of Thee", 
written by Charles E. Orr.

"Alone in some secure retreat,
The sky o'ershadows me;
All nature smiles so soft and sweet,
I'm thinking, Lord, of Thee.

Thinking of Thee, O Lord, of Thee,
Musing on things above;
Till every chord within my soul,
Is tuned with heav'nly love."

I've thought of this song so many times.
It has been an inexpressible blessing to me.
Because I feel what the writer felt....when he wrote it.
It springs from deep within...
my inmost spirit.
It puts into words...
my hunger for God.

If you care to listen to the melody,
here is a link that I stumbled across online.
(You can also read the rest of the words to the song.)

If we are hungry, God will feed us.
No matter where we are.
No matter what our outward circumstances.
No matter how spiritually dry and arid our surroundings.
Remember the children of Israel?
Their journeys,
their trials and tribulations,
their circumstances....
all of them recorded as natural types and shadows
of the spiritual lives you and I now live.
We can learn so much from them.
Studying God's interaction with them,
on such a personal basis,
reveals much of Him...
His nature...
His providential care...
His covenant...
to you and to me,
 His trusting, expectant children.

The 78th chapter of Psalms paints a vivid portrait
and gives their story in a nutshell.
At one point, the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness.
They were hungry, physically,
doubting God,
not believing He could feed them there...
in such desolation.
The foolishness of their doubtful words found in the 19th verse?
"Yea, they spake against God; 
they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"

I call their words foolish because they already knew what God could do.
He had already miraculously parted the Red Sea...
caused the waters to stand in a heap on both sides...
dried the muddy ground in the middle...
right in front of their very eyes...
and kept it dry until the last one of their doubtful feet crossed over 
and landed safely on firm ground on the other side.
He had caused water to gush from a rock,
when they were thirsty.
He had rained down manna from Heaven,
when they were hungry.

It makes me wonder how in the world they 
could ask such a question as,
"Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"
How could they doubt what God could do?

The answer to their foolish question is
a resounding YES!
God can furnish a table in the wilderness...
and anywhere else He needs to...
to provide sustenance to His trusting children.
God "preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies"...
Psalm 23:5

God can furnish a table in the most desolate Lodebar of your life.
(Lodebar - logs to stoke another devotional fire, as God leads...:~)
God can feed you in the midst of barren wasteland.
The only condition God needs is one.
You must be hungry.
If you are hungry,
if your soul is parched,
if there is within you a deep-seated need,
a yearning,
an intense longing...
for heavenly food...
God will provide it.

You don't have to be seated in a pew.
You don't need to be in the midst of the sanctimonious.
Perhaps, due to circumstances beyond your human control,
you are living in this moment.
Maybe you are surrounded by spiritual desolation.
Where no sustenance grows.

Can God feed you there?
Can He furnish a table?
Right such dry conditions?
Yes, my friend!
He is the Creator, remember?
He made the world...
out of nothing.
To furnish a table, 
with all the trimmings,
overladen with spiritually-charged nutrition,
is an easy task for God.
No matter where you happen to be.

If you are hungry,
you will be filled.
He promised.
I've proven it.
Over and over and over and over....
and over again.

I've experienced such a spectrum.
Such varying circumstances.
No matter how fertile the soil,
on which spiritual ingredients grew,
no matter how desolate the ground,
in which no life remained,
God has kept my soul.
He has sustained my spiritual life.
He has fed me.
Filled me to overflowing.
Blessed until I felt I could contain no more...
without first being given a celestial body.

Some who read this blog faithfully 
are now within the walls of spiritual desolation.
Your circumstances foster no spiritual nutrients.
You are hungry.
Craving God.
In the midst of barrenness.

Do not despair!
God is with you.
Right there.
You have not yet tapped into the storehouses of the richness of His spiritual wealth.
He will come down...
right there...
where you are.
And He will furnish a table...
just for you.
It will contain an "all-you-can-eat" buffet.
Each time you go back,
you will find a fresh supply...
of goodness,
and everything you crave.
The only requirement?
Your hunger for God.

Sadly, we can find ourselves in spiritual barrenness
while surrounded by "religion" and "religious" people....
right in the midst of organized services.
If you are there,
I say the same to you,
don't despair!
God is there.
He sees the hunger.
The disappointment...
time after time...
as you leave their finely-orchestrated assemblies unfed...
still hungry...
yearning for Him.

God can furnish a table in the wilderness...
no matter where it is.

He has fed me at unlikely sites...
in unlikely places...
and with others.
Seated at tables.
Built by God.
Laden with good things...
just what I longed for and craved.

He'll feed your hungry soul.
On a beach,
in a church building,
in your living room,
in the car,
at the foot of a mountain,
on your knees,
flat on your back,
far off in the woods,
 at the stump of a tree,
seated on a fallen log,
surrounded by unbelievers,
in the midst of persecution...and ex-communication....
and the scorn of others.

His creativity is endless.
He is the Creator.
He never runs out of ideas.
On how to build a table.
On how to feed your soul...
as long as you are hungry.

                                                              Do you hear Him calling?

Do you sense His acknowledgement of your deep longing?
He waits for you...
table spread...
arms outstretched...
gentle voice whispering...
you closer.

"Come, child.
I'm here.
Everything is ready...
table prepared....
just for you."

Now, my friend,
just take His hand....
and follow Him...
to the table.

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