You can always tell which celebrations are next up on our calendars from a trip to the neighbourhood dollar store. The shelves will be overflowing with symbolic colours particular to that occasion such as green for St. Patrick’s Day and red for Valentine’s Day. Red is often associated with passion and life. Some might be surprised to find out that Valentine’s Day has its origin in paganism; the sole occasion was to celebrate a Roman fertility god named “Lupercus”. From ancient history we learn that he had been Rome’s protector and mighty hunter. Not even with Rome’s brand of Christianity under Constantine could the people be persuaded to discontinue this heathen custom.
Whether a Christian should even participate in this event has often been debated. Even so, the Bible does speak of passion and life but in an entirely different manner. Psalm sixty-three speaks about David’s passion for God. We read in the opening verse that his soul thirsts for God. Thirst is not something that is strange to the desert traveller. To live and travel in the wilderness means that you will encounter times of thirst, even leaving you parched and weak. The need for water may have reminded David about his own need for God especially now that he knows that Absalom, his son, wanted to kill him in order to become king. David flees across the Judean desert to take refuge in the city of Mahanaim. It was during his trek in the desert that David had written Psalm sixty-three.
For David the wilderness was nothing new. He had been exposed to its harsh conditions many times. While still a young boy, the desert was where he spent most of his time shepherding his Father`s flock. In later years, he lived like a fugitive, wandering through the wilderness dodging efforts by Saul to murder him. And now, with Absalom on his trail, David has fled again. The desert was prime territory to teach David about trust. The wilderness was God’s classroom where David discovered many lessons about God’s faithfulness. In the desert, it is said that you cannot be more than two or three days away from a watering hole, or spring. Otherwise, you die. Keeping the metaphor of thirst before us, Christians should desire God as if our lives depended on it, much like David did. But developing trust in God does not always come easy. You can expect wilderness experiences because it remains God’s way to grow a Believer’s faith. Too often, we wish for some easier back roadway where we can learn about God in a trouble free manner without suffering, but achieving success is probably as likely as blowing out a house fire through a straw! Christian maturity is hard work. God will put the Believer through many demanding and varied trials.
The lesson to be gleaned from all of this is that to walk closely with Jesus is not as much a matter of watching Christian videos, listening to Christian music, or reading the latest bestselling book on the subject of Christian maturity. A great passion for God is clearly about being subject to the same time tested hardships that God has practised over the centuries to bring his people into greener pastures to eat and drink from His abundance. David testified to this in these words: Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3) Can you imagine that — better than life itself! Oh, that Christians would rise up and desire God with an unquenchable thirst!