so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
(Psalm 42:1-4 ESV)
As a family, we're really not movie fanatics. We don’t have to keep up with the latest box office hit. Being pretty selective, we stick to a smaller collection of videos and watch them several times (OK, some of the good ones are watched more than several times). By doing this, we get to know the lines really well.
There’s one line from “The Rookie” that I love. Jimmy Morris (an over-the-hill pitcher who’s trying to make a comeback) has an inspirational moment after being on the road for weeks with a minor league club and with this newly acquired attitude adjustment shows up in the locker room the next day. He meets his friend right before the game and says,
“You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball.”
The fire was back because he remembered why he was there—for the love of the game of baseball. As I recall, Jimmy Morris would go on to play two seasons with a Major League team.
This morning we all will get into our cars (except for us because we’re currently meeting in our house) and go to a worship service. Same thing we’ve probably done for years. But where’s the fire, the anticipation, the desire to meet with God?
What if this were taken from us? Would we echo the words of the psalmist, “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? … These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival"?
I don’t want to talk about the persecuted Church this morning (another topic for another day). I simply want us to do a little self-examination: How thirsty are we? What are we doing during the week to increase this thirst and hunger for God? There are many spiritual disciplines that we must practice to see our longing grow, such as, personal Bible study and meditation, prayer, fasting, etc. We must pursue our Savior through these means.
There is another critical factor: the pastor/elder. We pastors play a vital role in setting the tone of the church. We don’t replace or do the work of the Holy Spirit, however, so much is passed on unconsciously by our example. We CANNOT take other believers to spiritual heights that we have not yet attained. C.H. Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, wrote this about the pastor’s role:
“For the sake of our church members, and converted people, we must be energetically [earnest], for if we are not zealous, neither will they be. It is not in the order of nature that rivers should run uphill, and it does not often happen that zeal rises from the pew to the pulpit. It is natural that it should flow down from us to our hearers; the pulpit must therefore stand at a high level of ardour, if we are under God, to make and to keep our people fervent... a dull minister creates a dull audience.”
Spurgeon is not referring to personality types when calling out the “dull minister.” He is pointing instead to the pastor’s level of affection and zeal for Jesus Christ. When the pastor knows he’s going to meet with the God of the universe and will proclaim “thus saith the Lord,” things are radically different. As he rejoices at the foot of the cross in unmerited grace that translates into saving faith, the congregation will be impacted. All together they will say, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:5-6 ESV)
This morning as we meet together, may we again be filled with a hunger for God. We have already tasted and seen that He is good. It is my prayer that we would now not settle for lesser things, but that we would together worship Him in spirit and in truth.