Maintenance Reqd

This morning’s reading was Psalm 42:1-2,5-7

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.


At our Life Group last night we had an interesting discussion about what it means to be desperate for God. I admit, my initial reaction was not positive, since the word “desperation” has negative connotations for me. One of the members offered “hunger” as an alternative, which I found more palatable, and in this Psalm we see the idea of our soul “thirsting” for God. Whichever word we use, at its core is the idea of desiring God, as a desperate person wants help, as a hungry or thirsty person will desire food and water.

What struck me this morning is that these are not optional. A person in a truly desperate situation will often not survive without outside intervention. A person can survive up to 30 days without food, but barely three or four without water. Yet, how often do we see our relationship with God, our time spent with God as something optional, something we will fit in if we can cram it into our schedule.

To change the metaphor for a moment, I think of it like having a car regularly serviced. We may try to avoid it because it’s expensive, especially at the dealership. But a car that is not serviced will eventually develop problems that could easily cost more than the preventative maintenance. My philosophy on this is that you can pay now (service) or pay later (problems) but you’re still going to pay.

But we are not talking about a car here. We are talking about the much more delicate instrument of our soul. And for some of us, the warning lights may be blinking, “maintenance required” and the symptoms are seen in our ever increasing character issues, such as anger, impatience, frustration, addiction… If we neglect these issues, we are only storing up greater trouble for down the road.

The part which I find particularly interesting about this Psalm is v5, where the writer addresses his soul as though it is external to him. It seems that it is possible to speak to, command and redirect our soul. We can adjust it, like a wrongly positioned TV antenna, and tune it in to God. We can tell it to do what we know is good for it. Spend time with God, talk to him, read the Word, and so on.

Verse 7 says, “Deep calls to deep” and I think that means that the Spirit of God calls to our own spirit, seeking communion, seeking connection and conversation. We ignore that call at our peril.

So, whatever metaphor resonates best with you:

  • a desperate cry
  • a hungry or thirsty soul
  • a car in need of maintenance
  • a TV antenna requiring adjustment

acknowledge that your soul needs attention, that maintenance is required, that deep is calling unto deep, and do something about it.

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