Archives, Biography, Orlando, Sons of Korah

Tasting and Longing (Psalm 84)

I can’t find the taste I remember. For several months my colleagues and I would gather at a mentor’s home where she served us her favorite tea. It was the cleanest, deepest flavor I had ever tasted. I drank my first and last cup of this tea over twenty-five years ago. I’ve been looking for it ever since. I haven’t found it anywhere, not in the states nor the UK, from whence it came. I don’t know its name. But I am confident I will recognize it when that tea appears in another cup someday.

Psalm 84 is a psalm of longing for what is remembered, but not yet fully granted. Longing for the living God. Fainting for His courts.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of Hosts!
My soul long, yes faints
for the courts of the Lord:

my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

If I had that cup of tea in my hand, I wouldn’t be longing for it. If I am presently in a place where God is dwelling–and I know something of wisdom-I will not be thinking of the future moment when I will no longer be there. No, longing is a present-tense word to remember with joy the loveliness of what I have once tasted.

During my lifetime I have been blessed with countless tastes of the presence of the Lord in his dwelling place of vibrant Christian community.

• In a van at a summer bible camp thirty-five years ago. ‘Twas not merely the mosquitos
that woke up that amazing summer in northern Minnesota as my soul began thirsting for God.

• In a college chapel where seeds of charismatic, evangelical and liturgical worship were being planted and watered–all together. It’s an extraordinary combination. Much lasting fruit was established in my precious congregation in the mid ’90’s in Wheaton, Illinois.

• Over a decade as a member of the faculty at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville. Because this school is the most “rhythm-ed” place I know, in my second January after resigning I live the week with my brothers and sisters at a very sub-conscious level. I can imagine what is going on at this moment at 11:30 on Saturday. The rush to get done with this morning’s material. The joyful weariness of faculty, students, and staff, and the unspoken gratitude that this is not the June session, and we don’t have graduation tomorrow, and everyone gets a real break on Sunday.

Whether in Minnesota woods, Chicago suburbs or Jacksonville riverside, I could not imagine living outside the communities with whom I breathed.…..while I was breathing with them.

But all of these seasons are behind me. The sparrows and swallows still find a home near the altar in each of these places. “Those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise” are indeed blessed!

But God’s blessing is not only for those to whom he reveals himself in community now.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion.

To sing for joy with the living God in communities where he is revealing his presence: once tasted, nothing else tastes the same.

But something there is in pilgrimage. Somehow the Living God inhabits my intense longing. Longing is not a substitute for being in the Lord’s courts. But, as Joy’s close companion, longing is also my sister. And on life’s journey, I am blessed as I befriend them both.

Oh, if I ever find that exquisite tea, I’ll share it….wherever I am.

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