“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him. The help of my countenance, and my God” (Psalm 43:5).
I went to bed last night disappointed and I woke up this morning a cynic. My eyes opened long before the sun broke through and I picked up where I’d left off hours before; bemoaning the fact that the life I long for is always and ever just out of my grasp. It’s no way to start the day, so I dragged my weary soul into my prayer closet. With a strong cup of coffee by my side and a page-worn Bible in my lap, I hung my head and petitioned God for renewed vision, energy, and encouragement. In all honesty, I think I might have had more confidence in my cup of caffeine than a divine encounter, but there I was anyway praying for a miracle.
My passage for the day was from I Kings chapter 10, the old familiar story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Her royal highness had heard reports of the King of Israel and how his prosperity and wisdom surpassed all others, but she wouldn’t believe it until she saw it with her own eyes. And see it she did. After traveling 1400 miles across the desert sand, she beheld ‘Solomon in all his glory’ (Matt. 6:29).
“When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed” (I Kings 10:4-6 NIV).
This particular chapter marks the culmination of God’s lavish affection, His extreme generosity, and His faithfulness to His chosen people. Solomon’s kingdom was the height of Israel’s history, one that began when God’s favor happened upon a no-name man called Abram. God promised him the same things we all desire: an identity, a purpose, and a future (Ge. 12:1-3). Solomon was the Old Testament fulfillment of those promises.
It’s a beautiful fairytale-like story of a kingdom long ago and far away. Sadly, it stands in stark contrast to my here and now. In my humble kingdom, there is grace and love and worthwhile endeavors, but most days are marked by unfulfilled ambitions, unfinished projects, and frustrated desires. As much as I appreciate all that God has given to me, I long for a life of greater purpose and adventure. I dream of starting a revolution and changing the world, but here I am cleaning toilets, struggling with my outdated laptop, stressing over bills, and pulling my hair out over 7th grade math. What day is it anyway?
Solomon’s story needles my tender disappointments. I don’t envy his riches or even his wisdom, but I ache for more of God’s power and purposes in my life. Perhaps it’s really more His glory? Yes, indeed. I want to see more evidence of Him in my lonely landscape of meaningless and mundane tasks. And quite frankly, I’d like Him to do something about all those hindrances and holdups that pin me down. Without meaning to, I end up feeling that I’ve fallen out of His favor or He’s holding out on me. And once I’ve accepted those little lies, it’s only a short leap to conclude that I’ve been abandoned to my own strength, resources, and makeshift plans.
In reality, I have access to riches and wisdom beyond anything Solomon could have imagined. I sit on the other side of history where the promises made to Abraham have been supremely fulfilled, not in Solomon, but in Christ. Through Him, God has offered Himself to the world that all would partake of His life abundant (John 14:6; 10:10). I have the life, love, identity, and purpose I crave available to me. I know this and I’ve experienced it many times over, but I too quickly forget, fail, and grow weary. Sometimes, I need Him to rouse my heart from its stupor and remind me who He is.
Do you remember the reaction of the Roman soldiers when they came to arrest Jesus in the garden? He confirmed His identity with an, “I am He” and they immediately drew back and fell to the ground (John 18:6)! Two chapters later, Mary responded in similar fashion when He said her name, “Mary” (John 20:16)? It only took three words to bring the soldiers to their knees and only one word to convince Mary of the impossible. One word from His lips, one touch from His Spirit, one moment in His presence can shake the foundations of our soul. As deep calls to deep, Our Creator wields the power to summon our attention with nothing but a whisper.
And so He did for me. In the stillness of the early hour, I dragged my soul to the throne, laid the mess before Him, and waited. Softly, He spoke these words of life. “I am what you need and I am here.” Only a few words, yet they were as a thousand, extravagant and sufficient all at the same time. I relished the moment, let it sink in deeply, let it saturate every fiber of angst and fear until the sun broke through the cracks in the door and the demands of the day came calling. Such tastes of eternity are the joy of my life. When I abide and dwell with Him, all that I seek is secure. As I drink full the cup of His provision, I am quieted with contentment. When I lay my burdens at His feet, I pick up comfort and hope in their stead. As the Psalmist says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalms 84:10).