“When can I go and meet with God?” – Psalm 42:2b
Three months have passed since the developing coronavirus pandemic made it necessary for our church to suspend Sunday services and move towards online “house church”. By now, most of us appear to have taken to this new way of doing church — worship in song, church announcements, watching recorded sermons, taking holy communion and sharing and praying together — all online. Along with you all I too tried to adapt to new circumstances, yet more often than not feeling like a fish out of water.
Last weekend Namiko and I, along with some friends, participated in DECLARE, an 80-hour marathon reading of the entire Bible. This annual event is organized by the Arts Collective and has taken place at the Bible Society for the past few years. This year it also became an online event. Ahead of time, I requested the organizers to allow us a slot that would cover the Psalms, my favourite book in the Bible.
So at 0900PM on Thursday our team opened the time with a brief prayer. I was given the honour to kick off the segment by reading Psalm 42. The beginning words were as familiar to me as a time-honoured worship song:
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
As I continued reading aloud the Psalmist’s ancient words, I quickly found a strange feeling come over me:
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
among the festive throng.
I could not help but be affected by the Psalmist’s turbulent, changing emotions as I read on. I found myself deeply identifying with his lament and spiritual loneliness. When I came to the lines Why, my soul, are you downcast?/ Why so disturbed within me? it was difficult for me to carry on. Eventually I finished reading the Psalm with its uplifting lines Put your hope in God,/ for I will yet praise him,/ my Saviour and my God. Then I went on to read the next three Psalms, before others in my team took their turns.
This unexpectedly poignant experience stayed with me and I had to reflect upon it for more than a day. I realized that every change in the status quo results in something lost and something gained. The new routines for work, worship, recreation and rest had affected me more than I knew, and my regular times of intimacy with God had suffered. I do know one does not only meet with God in a building, but that His Spirit dwells in each of his children (1 Cor. 6:19). So in this journey in the wilderness time, He continues to be the Rock of my salvation – from which the spring of eternal life flows to quench my thirst.
By Elder Aaron Lee (YCKC Bulletin 7 June 2020)