I'm homesick—longing for your salvation; I'm waiting for your word of hope. My eyes grow heavy watching for some sign of your promise; how long must I wait for your comfort? There's smoke in my eyes—they burn and water, but I keep a steady gaze on the instructions you post. How long do I have to put up with all this? How long till you haul my tormentors into court? The arrogant godless try to throw me off track, ignorant as they are of God and his ways. Everything you command is a sure thing, but they harass me with lies. Help! They've pushed and pushed—they never let up—but I haven't relaxed my grip on your counsel. In your great love revive me so I can alertly obey your every word.
(Psalm 119:81-88 The Message)
I don't think I have ever experienced homesickness like I did that first week of Basic Training when I went into the US Army. Those first seven days away from home were torture to my psyche! I had been to Girl Scout Camp for two weeks, but somehow it just did not affect me quite like being at Boot Camp! Maybe it was because I knew there was an end to camp, but there was no hope of going home from Boot Camp! Those feelings we have with homesickness are almost hard to explain, but there is an intense longing to just be safe again. To be home includes that idea of safety (at least for me) and security - - there is just something about being surrounded by what is familiar that gives us that sense of peace.
Our psalmist is obviously going through a struggle or two as he pens these words. He is "homesick" - he wants the safety and security of being comforted by his Lord and Savior! He is in an intense period of waiting - - the most difficult place to be for most of us! It is just a word that David seeks - - one word - - giving him hope and the ability to hold on a little longer until his full deliverance can be realized. It was kind of like when I was waiting for that first letter from home. Just one letter! Mom couldn't write until I wrote to her - - she had no idea how to contact me, that I'd made it safe, or that her "wee lassie" was taken care of. She must have been experiencing some of the intensity of being apart. I think we often feel the intensity of our own loss without regard for the intensity of loss God must feel when we are "apart" from him for a while.
I am not sure what was going on with David when he penned these words, but his spirit is pretty low. He has a longing to be near God, but he seems to be experiencing some type of "absence" in the sense of knowing God's comfort. He is "crying out", "waiting intently", and "longing". These are words of pretty significant "need". Here is the real the kicker - - he is "holding on for dear life"! I think that must be what it means to "not relax his grip on God's counsel". The idea of "holding on" is requiring a whole lot of effort on David's part and he is feeling the "strain" of the effort.
This is the condition many of us might find ourselves in as we end this year. We might have been thrust into circumstances throughout the year that we did not choose. The challenges have mounted and the walls seem to be closing in. The feelings of "alone-ness" are so intense that we don't seem to see any hope. We have been waiting so long for God to intervene that we just have grown weary in the waiting. We cry out, but the answer just seems to be so far away. In a word, we are "homesick" for God. We haven't experienced the intensity of his love and presence as much as we would like - - we are bleary-eyed and feeling alone in the attacks of our enemy.
Why do we experience homesickness in the first place? Isn't it because we have experienced the warmth and love of "being at home"? We long for what we know to be possible! Here's the short answer: God never left! He is still right there! We just need to re-establish the contact! It wasn't until I wrote to Mom that she could write to me - - the feelings of intense "alone-ness" were really resolved when I established the "connection". I used to have a sticker of a telephone on my guitar case with the words "God never forgets our number" just underneath it. This is so true! We forget to "dial into" him, not realizing how much we "grow apart" in the process. Yet, he never forgets to "dial into us"!
So, as this year draws to a close, let's examine where we are with establishing and maintaining "contact" with the one who cares so deeply for us. In those "contacts" we are renewed, re-energized, and re-vitalized for the challenges that lay ahead. "Dial in"! You won't be sorry you did!