“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
I’m a gamer…..it’s what I do….board games, video games, card games, charades (especially battle of the sexes). I love to compete. I love to have fun. I’m a gamer. I felt it necessary to start off by saying that for two reasons. Reason one I’m extending an open challenge to anyone reading this. Reason two because two and a half years ago I lost my little brother in a tragedy. He was murdered for essentially 150 dollars. In that moment I felt as if God seared Psalm 42 into my soul and opened my eyes to truths I primarily understood cognitively. You see, in the midst of tragedy my soul was yearning for peace and hope. I was thirsty. The pain of having to bury my 21-year-old little brother, combined with person after person exhorting me to be strong (which by the way when, someone is on a grief journey, presence is better then words 9 times out of 10 unless the words spoken are I’m here with you), and my mind racing every time I would stare at my 1-year-old daughter wondering what I would say when she asked about Uncle CJ, left me parched and thirsty.
The default reaction to thirst is seeking to quench it. For me I thought peace and hope would come if I withdrew into the fantasy world of video games. I was the hero in the games saving the distressed, crying my eyes out wondering why I couldn’t have saved my bro. In a week I beat like 4 video games. I would come up for air and more tears.
Let me take a moment to interrupt this rant by saying there’s no cookie cut pattern for mourning, but even so, pain isn’t a viable excuse for looking to things to satisfy the issues of our soul as opposed to the one who created it, God….back to the rant.
I would squeeze out prayers of God I’m scared, God I’m lost, God why, and God please help. As much as the games helped in the moment, I knew I was only drinking salt water until I wrestled with the Lord. The person who allowed the wound was the only one capable of healing my soul and satisfying the thirst for peace and hope.
Psalm 42….As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
My tears were definitely my food all day and night. I heard voices in my head that sounded like my non-believing relatives saying, “aren’t you the pastor, aren’t you supposed to be the beacon and pillar of hope?”
Nevertheless, God in His grace brought people around me to remind me of His goodness, namely my wife. And my soul went from being lost in Tomb Raider, to being lost in the scriptures and prayer seeking to hear from and rest in the truth of God’s absolute rule, infinite wisdom, and supreme goodness. You see cognitively I would’ve said God is the ultimate treasure. and though he slay me, I will still praise His name, but functionally what I turned to in the midst of tragedy revealed where my ultimate treasure or my source of hope really was.
I guess in the midst of this rant what I’m trying to say is that life has a way of exposing you, and God has a way of letting it do so, that he may replace the salt water we drink from regularly with living water which nourishes us deeply. In doing so, he gives us a taste that makes our souls like the Deer who pants for flowing streams. You see in that moment it was thirsting after peace and hope, but another time it’ll be thirsting after significance, and another time it will be after approval. Regardless of what the catalyst of the thirst is, and as dynamic as the expression of the thirst may be, the truth is I’m drinking from salt water at best until I let it lead me to the presence of Christ….
Since then, tears have been a plenty, and life still happens, but with sincerity I can say that there’s a renewed excitement in me and a passion to allow the thirsts of my soul to lead me to a deeper thirst for Christ, to know him deeply and allow life to be a vehicle to escort me and others to his presence. I guess you can say I’m still thirsty, but I’m slowly sipping on His beauty until I drink in full when I see him face to face!
Muche Ukegbu lives in Decatur GA with his amazing wife Diamone, and 3 children (Serenity(3), Joelle (2), & Noah(5 months). As the Family Pastor at Blueprint Church, he shepherds and strengthens the church family as they seek to unleash healthy people to do ministry where life exists. Follow him on Twitter @MucheU