The Haw River in Alamance County, North Carolina.
Psalm 63:1-2, “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So, I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.”
The Haw River is a serene and dramatically beautiful waterway that runs through north central North Carolina. The Haw, a shortened Anglicized name from the Catawba Indian name, is part of the great Cape Fear River Basin. Of note to our Biblical meditation, the Haw River has two particular tributaries that will come before you as you canoe your way down: Troublesome Creek and New Hope Creek. And so, it always seems to be.
Spiritual depression is not, necessarily, a sign of faithlessness. It is often the occasion that follows our inactivity in the boat on life’s River. Triumph may cause us to put down the oars, mistaking a milestone with a finish line. Sorrow may bring a numbness that stops the rowing. Both events can hinder or stop apparent forward movement down the river of life. Our vessel drifts out of the main and into the troublesome tributary. It is in this backwater place that we realize that we are drifting, away from our goals, away from the river that leads home. And we are forlorn. We are, in a word, depressed.
Yet, there is a way back to more serene waters. When you find yourself paddling on Troublesome Creek, pull up to the soft bank, in prayer, and meditate on God’s Word, the sooner to see you through to better sailing and fairer winds. Psalm 63 is one place to pause for guidance.
When the Psalmist of this Sixty-third sacred song experienced the familiar spiritual depressions that afflict each of God’s children in every age, he withdrew to the temple sanctuary to be reminded of the majesty of the Lord. So, there amidst the signs of the celestial realm, the pilgrim was refreshed by the Lord’s glory, which threw golden gleams of calming light upon the shadows of his personal problems. And, thus, he was refreshed beneath the eternal Presence.
Today, you and I—who have repented and trusted in the Messiah, Christ Jesus—have been given the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who, also, leads us to healing: and as we seek the Almighty in His Word we find the crucified, resurrected, reigning, and soon-coming One the Psalmist sought: Jesus our Lord. He reigns, this moment, in power and glory, sanctifying every sorrow to our good, and causing every wind of the storm intended to destroy us, to guide us; guide us to where He is, His sanctuary, our home.
Dr. Michael A. Milton (PhD, University of Wales) is the Distinguished Professor of Missions and Evangelism at Erskine Theological Seminary where he also serves as the Director of Chaplain Ministries. The retired fourth presidency and chancellor of the RTS System, Dr. Milton founded and shepherded 3 churches (KS, GA, and NC), and was the senior minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga. Mike Milton is a US Army Chaplain (Colonel) retired, and remains President of the D. James Kennedy Institute of Reformed Leadership. Dr. Milton’s life verse is from Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” Or, as Mike puts it in the title of his autobiography, “What God Starts God Completes.”