As The Deer…

Last week I was asked to provide a devotional thought to open the annual Hillsboro Women’s Retreat – organized each spring by the women of Hillsboro United Methodist and Hillsboro Christian Churches.  I wrote this, and thought I would share.

I will preface this by saying that my husband is the pastor – NOT ME! He spent years in seminary and college studying the bible – NOT ME!  These are just my thoughts on a little bit of scripture…

 

I first read Psalm 42 (English Standard Version):

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?t
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 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.

5 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 salvationt

6 and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 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.

 

And followed with this:

In my mind I can clearly see the place where I first heard “As the Deer.”  Geographically I was on a small, mission-based camp in the backwoods of Alabama.  I had traveled to this place with my youth group for a week of learning to serve in practical ways.  This song was introduced to me one morning as we gathered for devotions in an outdoor, creek side chapel area.  We sang this simple song as a group, and I remember taking in my surroundings.  The early sun shining through the leaves above; the slow water trickling in the creek below; the roughly cut tree trunks arranged into pews; the branches in front of us – formed together in the shape of a cross.

 

At this time in my life, I was a very new Christian.  Just months before this trip, I had begun a relationship with Christ, and to say that I was in a “honeymoon phase” wouldn’t even cover it.  I was head-over-heels in love with the Lord.  I was in a continuous state of searching – discerning His will for my life.  I wanted to serve Him however he wished, and I was going to do it whole-heartedly.

 

Over the few years that followed, I returned to this chapel many times.  Twice more with my youth group, and then I spend an entire summer at this camp – leading groups that came to serve just like I had.  A boy from my youth group at home ended up spending that same summer working there, and it was a joy for us to be there together – serving the Lord side by side.

 

It seems silly now to tell you that at the age of 18 I was horribly concerned with finding a man to marry.  It seemed like an urgent matter at the time!  I had dated a little, but never felt like it was right.  I knew what I wanted for a husband – I knew what I was looking for!  The ones I thought would work never did.  This summer I spent in Alabama ended up being a time where I didn’t worry about finding a husband so much.  I was learning what it was like to be married to God, in a sense.  I was hundreds of miles from home, living in a VERY rural area, doing hard, manual labor every day – definitely a departure for me.  Sure, I thought about my future as a wife and mother from time to time, but it was almost as if God was taking care of it for me.  Just a few months after returning from our time at this camp, that boy from my youth group asked me to be his wife, and I knew without a doubt that God had been planning this all along.  I truly believe that the Lord had been growing Matt and I individually for a lifetime of love and partnership in ministry.  We have been growing together, serving he Lord side-by-side ever since.

 

Now, after almost 9 years of marriage, I find myself in another state of turmoil.  I’m now beginning to find myself horribly concerned with becoming a mother.  It seems so easy to do. Lots of people I know do it all the time – some without meaning to!  So why isn’t it working out for me?  6 years of infertility and multiple miscarriages leave me wondering, much like the psalmist, “Why has God forgotten me?”  It is in these times of desperation and questioning that we must remember that our God directs his love, that his song is with us.

 

What do you desire?  For me, I desired a husband, and God brought me the best husband in his own time.  Now I desire children.  What do you desire? Safety? Health? It’s okay to want these things.  But what we need to remember is that GOD should be our deepest desire.  Life does not always work out the way that we want it to.  There are going to be times when our souls are downcast, wondering why life is so difficult.  I love this psalm, and the song we’re going to sing, because it reminds me that we should be THIRSTY for God! Our souls should desire HIM – and not be so horribly concerned with the other things we desire.  Our lord is to be praised, and our hope should be in Him.

 

 

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