June 19, 2016 Sermon Titled: God’s Presence: The Spring for the Thirsting Soul

First Mennonite Church

June 19, 2016

Text: Psalm 63:1-8

God’s Presence: The Spring for the Thirsting Soul

Have you ever felt very, very thirsty?

You may have heard the story of the little boy who was sent to bed at night. About ten minutes after he went to bed, he called, “Daaad”? “What”? Answered his dad. “I am thirsty,” the boy replied. “You had your chance. Lights out and good night!” Retorted the dad. Shortly after, “Daaad”? “What”? Asked the dad with an annoyed voice. “I want some water,” the boy called out again. “What you’ll get is a spank,” the dad said. About fifteen minutes later the boy called again, “Dad, when you come to spank me, can you bring me some water”?

Have ever been thirsty? I mean real thirsty? I remember once when my brother and I were out in the field and we ran out of water. We wanted to finish the job before we went back home on our bicycles. It was summer. When I got home and started drinking water, I felt my stomach could not take any more water, but my mouth felt so dry that I could not stop drinking.

We all have heard amazing stories of survival. And what is most amazing is not how people managed to find their way home, or how they were found, but what they did to quench their thirst. I remember the story of two men who were stranded in a rocky island off the Mexican Pacific coast. When their drifting boat landed on this deserted island they still had some water. But soon they ran out of it. So, they started walking along the rocky edges of the island looking for plastic bottles that the currents had taken into the ocean. Some bottles had a leftover water, from a few drops to a couple of sips. Some bottles were of various kinds of soft drinks. “We did not care who had left those bits of water,” they said. “In fact, we were thankful, some people did not finish their drinks.” After a couple of days they were rescued.

Take for instance the amazing story of Evans Monsignac of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He was the last to be rescued after the powerful earthquake leveled most of the Haitian capital in 2010. Evans was rescued after 27 days of being trapped between slabs of concrete of the collapsed La Saline market.

When Evans was interviewed in the Tampa General Hospital in Florida, he admitted, “I still don’t understand how I’m here, I was resigned to death. But God gave me life. The fact that I’m alive today isn’t because of me, it’s because of the grace of God. It’s a miracle, I can’t explain it.”[1]

When some around Evans started to speculated that somehow he may have gotten food and water that he could survive for so many days, he emphatically said, “No.” When he was asked how then did he survive, he said that he felt humidity getting under his back as he laid down. He noticed something dripping from one of the slabs above his head. He said he scooped with his hand to capture the dripping fluid to take it to his mouth. It was sewage waste oozing downward from the collapsed building.

In every culture there is at least one typical dishes. Every culture has a favorite dessert. And although every culture has a favorite beverage, potable water is universal human necessity. No matter how much delight we have with our preferred beverage, there is nothing as refreshing as a glass of water. One of the common reasons why people end up in the ER is simply because of dehydration. There is nothing that can ease the feeling of being thirsty than a glass of water. The prophet Isaiah captures this reality when he says as when a hungry person dreams of eating,
he still awakes feeling hungry;
as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking,
he still awakes faint and thirsty

The psalmist had a craving for the presence of God, which he compared to being extremely thirsty and hungry for God. Thus he prayed:
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.

In the heart of David there was a deep longing to meeting with his God. So great was his longing that he compared to being thirsty in a dry and parch land. David was thirsting and nothing could quench his thirst, not his position, wealth, power, or family. David had a longing to come face to face with his God, which he compared must likely to his past experiences of being in the desert thirsting for a sip of water.

My dear friends, we live in a world which can be compared to a spiritual desert and a parched land. There is no watering hole for the soul. There is no living stream from which to drink. Most everything that happens today does not bring peace or joy to our heart. Most often what we hear and what we watch on the news instead of uplifting our spirit it drains it. We live in a desert where our soul can not only go thirsty, but is drained of its life by worry, fear, and uncertainty. We live in spiritual desert, and it is not because the world does not offer alternatives to quench our thirst. Yes, the world has an array of things it offers us to mitigate the deep thirst of the soul. It offers temporary pleasures, false sense of security, and the deceiving inferior mirage of the pursuit of happiness and self-achievement. There is this kind of optical phenomenon called “inferior mirage.” Inferior mirage is commonly seen in the desert. Often times when a thirsty traveler looks into the horizon, he or she sees something like a body of water some distance ahead, which keep them going only to find there is no water. And that is one of the deceits of the world. It tell us that if we only do this or get that we will find happiness and peace of mind. But soon after we do it or get it, we find the emptiness come back again.

The psalmist had a discerning heart. David knew that no one but God could give him the peace he longed for in his heart. The psalmist knew that God alone is the source of both inner peace and a worshipful spirit when he writes: I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
(Notice that mouth is both to enjoy food but also an instrument of praise)

David compares the presence of God like both the refreshing water to the thirsty and like an abundant banquet for the hungry. God alone gives real and deep satisfaction. God does not offer bread crumbs or stale food. God offers his unsurpassing peace in the midst of confusion. He offers us the inner strength in times of crisis, personal or otherwise. The Lord gives us power to love unconditionally even when hate seems to reign. His living water is life to our soul. But first, we have to recognize that we are thirsty. God will satisfy us but we most first acknowledge our need.

This imagery of the psalm 63 reminds us the inviting words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Today, God is offering us his living water. He wants to set table and offer us a banquet, but he will not force-feed us. We need to realize that we are thirsty and hungry. We need to come to his table and allow him to serve us. David craved for God’s presence. In Psalm 63, verse 3, David openly acknowledged that his life had no meaning without the love of God.

Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

I want to invite you, take time to tell God how much you need of his grace, love, and peace. Tell him also how much you rejoice before his presence. So often our prayers lack praise and thanksgiving and therefore we fail to find joy before the presence of God.

I realize that when I take time to pray and give thanks to God for each way he has blessed me and my family, I end up praising him. I finish my prayer with joy and look forward with hope that God will make himself real again. My fears and sense of despair disappear when I bow before the living God. Prayer is what makes us understand the meaning of David’s words: Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

Therefore, do not limit your prayer to a “thank you Lord for everything!” Instead, pour out your heart in prayer telling God all the ways he has blessed you. It is David who says: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits (Psalm 103:2). Take time to delight before God. Do not hesitate to tell God your burdens and concerns also. Prayer is the place where we meet with God. Prayer is like the conversation that takes place around the table with our spouse or with your children. We do not talk about the important matters only. Although we talk about chores and rules, we also talk about the little things. Prayer is the way we establish and reaffirm our relationship with God. On the other hand, God offers us what matters the most.

Let us, therefore, pray with the Psalmist:

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.

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/ (Thursday, June 16, 2016)