In The Mountains of Tioga

Silhouette of a standing happy man on the mountain peak

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.”

– Psalm 63:1-2 (NKJV)

I came to Tioga County in Pennsylvania to check out its version of The Grand Canyon. Pretty cool stuff to see and, as usual, there are the placards at the “Ooh-Aah” overlooks that explain that tens of thousands – or perhaps millions upon millions – of years were needed to carve this fantastic scenic spot out of the rock. Personally, I think I found those spots where Ancient Aliens came, carved out the rock and then taught the local Indian tribes to build temples to themselves so everything else could be worshipped …except The Most High God. Yeah, once that gets said we can pretty much sum things up that no matter what others may want to say, it’s always gonna point to El Elyon. Anything else is just lip service to elevate man’s humongous ego or express my sense of humor. Anyway…

Life as I know it at home needed to stop for a moment so I could fall back, think, and pray. There is something about being up in this high elevation that gives you the sense that you’re that much closer to El Elyon than you are at sea level. So, at the East Rim of this version of The Grand Canyon, my wife and I seized those moments to cry out to Him that created all this and tell Him we trust what He has planned and asked for the strength to endure the course that it runs. I usually find myself fitting into a Biblical character during these prayer times and in this moment, it’s King David.

It is the Second Book of Samuel and it starts off great, David becomes king, the Ark of Covenant arrives in Jerusalem, then as complacency sets in the sin with Bathsheba occurs and as the narrative goes on, we’ll see that an Absalom spirit has descended onto David’s court. David will be driven outta Jerusalem, by his son Absalom, and David’s priest, Zadok, will carry the Ark as he is following David out of the city. But David will turn to him and say, “Return the Ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again and show me both it and His habitation.” (2Samuel 15:25) Fascinating!! Even in the treachery that was occurring all around him, David was still putting El Elyon first.

I can touch and agree with David in one aspect of this story and feel this is where his heart was the heaviest. That is to have been driven out of Jerusalem was to be driven out of corporate worship of YHVH with God’s people. Now turn to Psalm 63.

This whole psalm is directed right at El Elyon and its not asking for protection or victory but for God, Himself, to satisfy David’s soul like water to a dry and thirsty land. With all that was going on during this part of his life, David didn’t just need to know but to feel that God’s steadfast love is better than life itself. For David, it wasn’t about asking God to save his life or to rescue Absalom from his sin but to feel his God’s presence like he could during those times of corporate worship with God’s people. When everyone shared in the solid joy of an unshakable love that only could come from YHVH Himself. My guess is that, so long as David could still feel YHVH’s love engulfing him, David would make it back to Jerusalem, back to corporate worship with God’s own people and maybe, just maybe, win Absalom back.

How about you? Has there been something that has driven you away from corporate worship and all you desire is to be back in the presence of THE God who loves you? I can tell you that you are NOT alone. Sometimes things can just go so wrong that all we think we can do is flee, and if that happens we need to be as mindful as David was when he told Zadok to go put the ark back where it belonged. We need to keep ourselves that kinda God-focused so that when we finally reach that absolute moment of thirst, the presence of God will be that much more-easier to find. So, if you’re like me today maybe a trip to the mountains is long overdue. Besides, the air is fresher up here and the water is much more purer than it is at sea level. Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 37-42| You can download our 2017 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here

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Daily Quote: “Here is a great longing I have for the corporate worship in our churches—that when we meet and sing and pray and hear the Word of God, God Himself will be so manifestly present in ‘power and glory’ that in years to come, when any of you is cut off from this immeasurable privilege, the very memory of seeing God in worship will bring Him home to you again.” — John Piper

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, Daniel 9:4

 

 

 

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