Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
We had the blessing of living for twenty years in a little village in the middle of a 32,000 acre national park in NE Ohio between Akron and Cleveland. We were in a valley, surrounded by forests and fields with a river running through the middle of it. It was home to a great many white-tailed deer. We could hardly drive anywhere without seeing them particularly in the morning and evening.
After moving into our home there we soon learned that the deer considered the flowers we planted ‘lunch’! Later we built a wrap-around porch on our house with hanging plants centered in the railing sections. We had to install gates on the porch because the deer would come onto it to eat the plants. Whenever we drove, we had to keep an eye out for the deer because deer accidents were so common. We had four in those years with several near misses.
One of the important side benefits of being around the deer was the way they reminded me of this verse. For years it presented a fascinating picture, but I just glossed over the part of the verse that talks of my soul panting for God. Later when the Lord began dealing with me about passion for Him I came to realize that this verse describes how He wants me to become. He wants my soul to pant and thirst after Him just like a thirsty deer pants for streams of water.
This began a great adventure for me in seeking the Lord as to how to make this happen. It’s one thing to say it or claim it – it’s another for it to be descriptive of what is actually occurring. One of the things that helped me in the process was the conviction that it was the Holy Spirit, at work in me, who was causing me to seek after this. Since He was the source, my hope was grounded firmly in the fact that He would enable me both to pursue and grow into this goal He had for me.
Thus began a process of daily praying for this to become me. Overall it was part of a much bigger picture of becoming passionate for God. The focus was upon seeking Him. The amazing thing is not only that God loves to play ‘Hide & Seek’ with us – but that He loves to be found! (When we’re playing this game with our little kids or grandkids, think of the joy we have in them looking for us and finding us.)
Whenever we see deer in nature, in calendars, in pictures – even reindeer hitched to a sleigh. Let them all trigger thoughts of this verse and the wonderful gift that God has in it for those who seek after Him.