As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God." Psalm 42:1
How often do you actually pick apart a verse and realize what it actually means? This verse is such a common one read and sung in churches, but I was very challenged when I realized this verse is implying a little more than we might realize. It all began in a very unique and unexpected way on a recent trip to Cuba.
A friend of mine and I had the opportunity of a lifetime while in Cuba. We had the opportunity to play some “béisbol” (baseball) along with some Cuban young people that we met. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Cuba one of the things that comes to mind is the Cubans’ love for “America’s favorite pastime.” In fact, Cubans may love this wonderful game even more than we Americans do today. So, I wasn’t about to pass this up—even if I was more than twice the age of just about everyone else. Not to mention, I hadn’t faced live pitching since my high school days. Playing béisbol in Cuba was on my bucket list for sure! To use this platform as a way to get to know people and share what Jesus means to me was the perfect scenario.
On the morning of the game, we woke up ready to go and only hit one snag—we couldn’t find any water. You see, in Cuba water isn’t as easily accessible as it is in other places. Tap water isn’t super healthy for us “gringos” to drink, yet buying bottled water in stores can be a pretty hit or miss endeavor. On that particular morning, it was pretty much a miss. We went to five different stores and came away empty handed. There was one bottle of water to share between my friend and me. But we weren’t about to let lack of water keep us from playing béisbol in Cuba, that’s for sure.
We arrived and started warming up under the warm Caribbean sun at about 9:30am. The game started an hour or so later and our water was out 15 minutes after that. Pressing on, we played a full nine-inning game against a high school age Cuban team from Havana. Afterward, we were able to share with those we played with about our love for Jesus. Playing béisbol that Sunday morning in Cuba was one of the best spiritual encounters with the Lord I’ve ever had.
It also left me incredibly thirsty.
I was thirstier than I could ever recall in my life. My mouth was parched beyond belief and I couldn’t even muster up any saliva and spit—as much as I tried. It was 4:00 pm when we got back to our apartment and began our city-wide search for something to drink. The “high” of playing béisbol in Cuba had worn off and we were physically and mentally drained. It was in those exhausting moments of walking from store to store, dying of thirst, looking for a drink, that the Lord began to speak to me about that verse.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” Psalm 42:1
The Lord began to show me a two things about longing for Him through my unquenchable thirst from playing béisbol.
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1) I need to cultivate my longing to be with Him.
Longing for God to be my all in all and to be the sole reason for everything I do, does not happen naturally—even as a follower of Jesus. It doesn’t magically happen. I have to make choices to pursue the Lord. Sometimes those choices are easy; sometimes I don’t feel like making those choices at all. The deer doesn’t lay around in the woods doing nothing and magically begins to pant for water. He is active. He is either running through the forest in search of food, running through the forest because he doesn’t want to end up being someone’s food, or running through the forest playing and chasing his fellow deer friends. I didn’t get thirsty that day in Cuba by sitting around doing and nothing. I pursued activity that came natural to me and that I was passionate about—and I pursued it hard. That created this unquenchable thirst I had. It was a thirst that wasn’t quenched until much later in the day.
That is the kind of thirst I want for God in my life.
2) Cultivating a thirst for Him can be done in very natural ways.
Usually we think of engaging in “spiritual” activities when we think of trying to cultivate a thirst for the Lord. You know things like going to church, praying, reading God’s word, being a part of a refreshing worship experience, etc. We look at those activities as the main ways we can get to know God. I’d like to suggest that those are just a few of so many different ways to get to know God. The Lord reminded me that day that He wants to do stuff with me. When I do stuff I like to do He is there with me and we can do those things together. Doing what is fun, what comes natural, and what I’m gifted at WITH THE LORD are great ways to cultivate a longing for the Lord.
You can just as easily meet the Lord worshipping in church on a Sunday morning as you can playing béisbol in Cuba.
What can you do to get thirsty for the Lord? Don’t wait for the thirst to come on its own, get active and watch your thirst for Him increase to an unquenchable level.
Where do you expect to meet the Lord? Be on the lookout to meet Him in unexpected ways and in unexpected places…. It could even be while going 2-4 with 2 RBI’s and 1 stolen base under a very warm Cuban sun!
YWAM Orlando Staff