“Like a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God… When shall I see you face to face?”—Psalm 42:1-2
Waiting is the hallmark of Advent, yet the Advent psalms and prophets speak more about longing than waiting: panting, fainting, begging, crying, desperate human need.
Waiting can be active, but it’s rarely terrible and driving. Desire, however, is visceral, like the crazed thirst of a wild animal in a parched land. God is a fierce and unrelenting need. Advent craves God.
No, you aren’t thrashing through underbrush frantically seeking water. You don’t really relate much to that panting deer. You don’t have those kinds of experiences of God. You’re no mystic.
Although there was that moment when you heard a loon on the lake and cried, couldn’t stop, didn’t know why, but so wished you did.
Although there was that moment when you felt incomplete, a restlessness, and wondered what you were missing.
Although there was that moment when you were suddenly and completely happy, consoled without cause, and you wish you could feel it again.
Although there was that moment at the peace march or serving communion or stargazing in pure black night when you grasped it whole, the way it is, the way it’s meant to be.
Although there was that moment when your heart lurched listening to a story about someone who risked it all, who loved the way you want to, yes, you do.
Although there was that moment your defenses were down and your suffering was great when you just cried out, cried out for God, and then got scared: what if God comes?
No, you’re no mystic, no thrashing deer.
But there was that time…
Prayer: I’m so thirsty for you, O God. Like the deer. When will I see you face to face?