03/28/2020 - By Pastor Todd Nathan
Tomorrow will be three weeks since we have worshipped together at EFCB. At this point in time, 3 weeks seems like a lifetime ago. Many of you have said to me how much you miss being with your church family and worshipping the Lord together. Even though "church" is not a building, it's still the place where everyone gathers. And in gathering, it gives us an opportunity corporately to fulfill our vision and the very reason why we exist: "To bring glory to God" as we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus and reach our world with the gospel of hope.
When restrictions are put on your life, as we have now because of COVID-19, or when obstacles are put in your way, even those things you value most will be difficult to do. It's when you can't do something that you realize it's true value and significance for your life. And that's what I believe people are feeling now. Our church family is valuable and important for each of us. We need each other! We have grown together through challenges and struggles, disappointments and joys, learning to love and serve one another more and more. We have seen the work of God in so many different people's lives, both those who have come to EFCB for years and those who are new. We have seen the church stabilized with a genuine resurgence of life and hope. All of this is not lost though because of COVID-19. What we have been experiencing together over the last few years is just a small part of God's ultimate plan for His church in Blairstown, and around the world.
The longing many of you have expressed to be together and worship the Lord again brought to my mind Psalm 63. King David was in the wilderness and longed to be back in the Sanctuary of God. Most likely this was the time when King David was being chased by his son Absalom who was seeking to take David's life and seize control of the Kingdom. Take a moment and David's words in Psalm 63:
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. 9 But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; 10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.
David expresses his strong connection to God. In fact, he says, "You are MY GOD!" He goes on to declare how much he longed to be with HIS GOD. He sought him early and earnestly. He thirsted after God's presence, feeling the weariness of being away from God in a dry place where there was no refreshment (water), or easy way to satisfy his thirst. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6) He thought back and reflected on what it meant to be in the sanctuary beholding God -God's power. His glory. His steadfast love which caused David to worship God (lift his hands and praise Him with his lips). God's rich provision for David's life (fat and rich food. God's protection over David's life. I love v7 so much - "in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy." The shadow of God's wings is a picture of God's protection, refreshment and tender care. Just thinking about this caused David to want to sing. As a result of all of this, David was clinging to God (v8) as God held David up with His righteous right arm (Psalm 121). David knew that God would work on his behalf. He had total confidence that God would deliver him once again from a perilous situation as he had done so many times before. David longed for God with a thirst and a passion for His presence. He was anxious to be back in Jerusalem and in the Sanctuary of God. But even in his great longing to be with God, he continued to remember who God is and worshipped Him until the day God would bring him back home.
Your longing is real and understandable. There is something great about believers worshipping God together. In fact, Jesus said, "Where two or more are gathered, there I am in their midst." But until we are free to do that again, we will keep hungering and thirsting after God right where we are, even if you find yourself in a less desirable environment that is like a dry spiritual place. Hold on to God - He is YOUR GOD! And YOUR GOD will work on your behalf as you worship Him right where you are!
May God give you peace and hope as you prepare your heart to worship Him each day!