Glued to God
What a rollercoaster ride life continues to be! I really appreciated being able to attend public worship at Christmas, but it still feels strange with the masks and social distancing and absence of singing. At the time of writing renewed lockdowns and prolonged school closures have been announced and while some churches are open for worship, others are not. How can we keep a vibrant faith when life feels so challenging, and even the experience of refreshing and inspiring corporate worship seems a distant memory?
The other day I was encouraged by reading Psalm 63 which David wrote when he was in the wilderness, possibly while fleeing from his son Absalom though we are not told precisely. Now that parents again have children surrounding them night and day to the point where it can be hard to get anything productive done, the idea of fleeing from your son into a wilderness might seem strangely attractive! However, it was David’s spirituality that struck me. He is clearly in a very difficult and lonely situation, yet his Psalm still begins with “You, O God, are my God” – most of my prayers seem to begin with “I, O God, am having an awful time…” If we begin our prayers with God rather than with our difficulties we are more likely to find the inspiration that David did.
He does move on to express the need of his current situation and the longing there is in his soul, but because he has started with God he can recall: “I have seen you in the sanctuary” (v2) – he looks back to past experiences of God to give him strength in the present, and so can we. By recalling God and his covenant love, David’s attention is diverted from his difficulties and into praise of the one whose “love is better than life”(v3). Even in bed David says he is thinking of God, remembering that He is his help and this causes him to sing (v7). Where are your thoughts as you lie awake in bed?
David might not be able to enjoy worshipping in the sanctuary now, even as we might miss worshipping in church, but he says “I cling to you” (v8, NIV) and the Hebrew word used means “stuck to”, a commitment which will not fail (like Ruth in Ruth 1:14). David is in the wilderness running for his life and unable to worship as normal, but because he is “glued to God” his experience is actually of being “satisfied as with the richest of foods” (v5). Being shortly after Christmas, I am well aware of what being satisfied with the richest of foods feels like! What we need is for our inner spirits to similarly be satisfied, and this is possible in 2021 if we commit ourselves, despite perhaps feeling like we too are running in the wilderness, to be “glued to God.” He is our help, his right hand upholds us, and we will sing in the shadow of his wings.
Revd John-Daniel Laurence