A Dry and Weary Land
By Jason Harrison
In case you have not noticed, it has not rained in a while. My yard is looking pretty parched (Christa gets on me for apologizing to my neighbors about my lawn status). You know it is dry when you hear a crunch as you walk on the grass. Our grass desperately needs water.
Sometimes our souls feel a little like the grass right now—parched and dry. In fact, the psalmist says that exact thing in Psalm 63. Verse one says,
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.
How does the psalmist respond? Where does he find refreshment for his parched soul?
First, he recalls how God has satisfied in the past. Dryness gives the sense that it has always been this way, but that is not the case. Remembering brings a clear focus. "I have looked upon you in the sanctuary" (verse 2). There is a sense in which we look and behold the "power and glory" of God when we worship together on Sundays. Recalling this worship restores our joy.
Second, he lifts up his voice in praise. He blesses the Lord as infinitely valuable and undeniably good. Verses three and four describe how the Lord satisfies us beyond what we could ever experience in this life. The trade is really no trade at all. Selling all you have to gain God as your treasure makes sense. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). The psalmist proclaims:
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night (verses 5-6).
There is something in declaring devotion to the Lord in our dry moments. Saying "blessed be the name of the Lord" in the darkest moments stirs our affections. It fans the flame of feeble faith.
Here the corporate and the private are emphasized. We need both. Sometimes we drive ourselves out into the desert and wonder why we are starving. To deprive yourself of the means of grace found in worship and being with God's people is spiritual suicide. Going to church every Sunday is for your good.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, "It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world" (Life Together, 18). We should never forget it. He continues, "The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer" (19). He says that we should give thanks and never take it for granted.
Even so, we also need quiet times—times where we meditate on God in "the watches of the night." Christ in the garden of Gethsemene exemplifies this for us. He rehearsed the truth about his Father as he cried out to him. Blessing the Lord, he submitted his will. Thereby, he opened the flood gates for us to find redemption and refreshment for our soul through reconciliation. It was his act on the cross that gave us our first taste of living water.
Maybe you are reading this and you are in a dry and weary land. Spiritually, you are running on empty. Take Psalm 63 upon your lips. Remember past joys, bless the Lord, and cling to him in the watches of the night. It is here that he satisfies, helps, upholds, and protects. The result is joyful singing in a dry and weary land.