Between Midnight and Dawn: Thirsting for God


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?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
~from Psalm 42


Empty and filled,
like the curling half-light of morning,
in which everything is still possible and so why not.

Filled and empty,
like the curling half-light of evening,
in which everything now is finished and so why not.

A root seeks water.
Tenderness only breaks open the earth.
This morning, out the window,
the deer stood like a blessing, then vanished.
~Jane Hirschfield from “Standing Deer”


Most days, at some point, I start feeling thirsty.

Not for water, which, living in the northwest,  I’m fortunate to have close by at almost any moment.

Not for alcohol, which puts me to sleep and makes me too fuzzy to function after a couple of swallows.

Not for milk which was all I ever drank growing up on a farm with three Guernsey cows that produced more than a family of five could possibly consume in a day.

No, I’m ashamed to admit I thirst for a Starbucks mocha.  With whip.

No, I didn’t give it up for Lent.  I acknowledge it is not truly thirst I am feeling but only a desire. I’m not panting and dehydrated.  This is a want rather than a need.  I will not die without my mocha.

Like any psychological (or physical) addiction, it just feels as if I might.

Instead I should thirst daily for God with the same visceral fervor and singlemindedness.   If I could dive into His word daily and savor it like I do my mocha, I would be much less fluffy in stature, and much more solid in faith.

This psalm reminds me of my constant thirstiness and how no mocha, no glass of water, indeed nothing of this earth will truly slake it.  I must wait to meet the Lord to know what it feels like to no longer thirst and no longer want, and then all needs, indeed all desires, are fulfilled.

“You have made us for Yourself, and we cannot find rest until we find it in You.”  
~St. Augustine





During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

6 thoughts on “Between Midnight and Dawn: Thirsting for God

  1. Thank you, Emily, for pointing out the vast difference between our wants and our needs.
    We humans are all too often stubborn, shortsighted creatures. We convince ourselves that we need so many things of this world to fill our bodies, our egos, our purchasing power, to make us whole and contented. In our pride and self deceit we even boast that we are sufficient unto ourselves.

    Then we are confronted head on with a crippling personal tragedy, devastating economic loss or a powerful spiritual insight that knocks us off our smug orbit and sends our emotional compass spinning.

    Where to turn for help? We don’t know. Because we are emotionally unprepared and spiritually empty. We have never felt the need to search our hearts to discern if we really had all that we needed to make it through on our Journey – alone. Then — if we are fortunate — by the Grace of God we learn an ancient Truth, as Augustine tells us in his Confessions (1:1): that we are restless until our hearts rest in God; and as Paul assures us in his Letter to the Ephesians (4:19): that God will supply all our needs..

    How to I know this? Because I learned through a painful revelation that I was NOT self sufficient unto myself and that my Creator-God knew my needs better than I. All I had to do was to ask for His help!


  2. I love the poetry of the translation of the 42nd we sang as children: “Like a deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is thirsting for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for the Lord, when shall I see Him, face to face?”


  3. How blessed you are to live where deer stand still for photos! And yes, I’d be a lot better too if I didn’t thirst for just straight Starbucks coffee rather than for the Lord. Thanks for a good word picture.


  4. … Beautiful & true . Thanks for sharing & putting our deepest longing into words.
    Be blessed 🙂


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