For those who didn’t make our gathering tonight we are continuing to listen to God. And we were thinking about seeking God
Longing for God
When have you felt especially close to God.
What was the experience like for you?
Read Psalm 63 1
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. 9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. 10 They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. 11 But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced
Sometimes we feel separated from God. During these times we may feel much like small children feel when they are separated from their parents—frightened, angry. And we may experience an intense longing for our Parent to return. Many things can create this sense of separation from God. It might come as a result of a loss or crisis in our lives which leaves us feeling forgotten or uncared for by God. It might come during a time of personal sin or failure when we struggle with fear that God might condemn or reject us. It might come, as it did for this psalmist, as a result of being removed from our community of faith. Whatever the reason, a sense of separation from God can generate life’s deepest pain, that of an intense longing for God.
This psalm helps us express our longing for God The psalmist describes his experience of longing for God in verse 1 with the strong physical metaphor of being thirsty in a desert with no sign of water. What does this image convey to you?
In verses 2 and 3 the psalmist describes how in the past he experienced God’s presence. What was his experience of God like? How have you experienced God as part of our community?
Because of his longing for connection with God, the psalmist says he will seek God, he will remember God and he will cling to God. The first action he takes is to earnestly seek God. What do you think it means to seek God? Have you, have we as a community been seeking God? The second action he takes is “remembering.” Where, when, what and how does the psalmist say he “remembers” God?
The third action he describes is “clinging.” In verse 8 he describes how he clings to God and how God holds him. What is your response to the image of clinging to God, does it feel more to you that we are clinging to God or being upheld by god, what about you personally?
Verse 1 describes a soul which is thirsty, with no chance of finding water. In stark contrast, verse 5 describes a soul which is satisfied with the richest of foods. These pictures contrast the experience of being separated from God and the experience of being close to God. What words or images would you use to describe times when you have felt separated from God?
What words or images would you use to describe times when you felt close to God?
Which set of images do you think best describe us a community at the moment?
How do you think as individual Christians and as a community we develop a longing for God?