Psalm 42 describes, it seems to me, the dilemma of a man struggling with spiritual depression. The author’s despairing question, “Where can I go and meet with God?” may well resonate with some of those who have felt cut off from fellowship with Him during the past weeks of enforced physical isolation from our fellow believers who have come to represent the body of Christ to us. I am by no means personally immune to the frustration of trying to find ways to cope with the lockdown! As I drive past the silent chapel building, I would sometimes find myself asking, “When can we go and meet with God”!
There is, of course, an answer! I was reminded the other day of one of the most remarkable changes in my life after I had received God’s gracious gift of redemption through his Son. I had (have) always been an extremely impatient driver with a particular loathing of traffic jams. On fairly regular journeys to visit my parents in North Wales, I would frequently encounter mammoth traffic jams on the M6. The great wonder is that instead of dreading these hours of stationary enforced isolation, I all at once found myself loving them! What a miracle! To rest, unflustered and calm in a miles long queue of fuming motorists became a genuine joy as I recited Bible passages and Psalms learned from early childhood, still unforgotten despite 30 intervening years of feckless living. God would come very close on these occasions, and as I meditated in the sacred privacy of the stationary Ford Escort (which had been a gift from a precious Christian friend) many an exciting revelation was graciously unfolded by the Spirit and became the substance of future sermons which, in His longsuffering kindness, the Lord saw fit to bless.
I have recently developed a compulsion for early rising. This uncharacteristic practice began during the last spell of hot weather when I would take Wally our dog out in the cool of the dawn. Unable to walk far due to a spell of sciatica, I find a bench to rest on and send Wally off to disturb the local rabbits. Some mornings have brought a heaviness of spirit with a sense of futility. The world’s daily growing burden of anxiety and trouble and the helplessness one can feel because of an inability to make any conceivable difference leave me with a sense of gloom, especially if it’s drizzling! The author of Psalm 42 says “All day long men say to me, ‘where is your God?’” But unfailingly, as I try to pray and recall uplifting verses, God makes his presence known and floods my spirit with the joy which comes from his gift of faith. I remember with rising hope my Christian brethren, past and present, and clearly see the answer to the plaintive question, “Where can I go and meet with God?” The answer is that God is everywhere. As Jesus said in Luke 17:21, “The kingdom of God is within you.” The key to the kingdom is in the keeping of the Holy Spirit.