Psalm 63 comes about as close to true worship and to the heart of true religion as a person can get. The first verse reads like this:
O God, you are my God; earnestly 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.
In his expositional commentary on the Psalms, James Montgomery Boice started his exposition of this Psalm with this paragraph:
There are three types of people in any Christian gathering. There are those who are Christians in name only. They seem to be following after God and Jesus Christ and say they are, but theirs is a false following, like that of the five foolish virgins who did not truly know the Lord and were rejected by him. The second class are those who are following Jesus but are following “at a distance,” like Peter at the time of Jesus’ arrest. The third type are those who, as Murdoch Campbell suggests, “in storm and sunshine, cleave to him and enjoy daily communion with him.” These people want God, and they want him intensely, because they know that he and he alone will satisfy the deep longing of their souls. David was a person who desired God above everything else, and Psalm 63 is a classic expression of this longing.
Which begs the question, which one are you? Which one am I? Some people will never move beyond being Christian in name only, and theirs is a sad fate, one which Jesus warned about constantly (Matthew 7:13-14; 21-23; 25:31-46). Once a person moves into the second stage of truly following Jesus, there is no going back, but the way forward can be slow and difficult. The obstacles and diversions in this life, especially in this modern technological age, are almost beyond measure. I suspect that those who have experienced the third stage are not there constantly, but are moving back and forth between the second and third. That has been my experience anyway, but the fault is mine alone and not God’s. He never changes. My will and my desire and my devotion are often as steady as water and stable as quicksand.
I am not alone. John Newton, author of the song “Amazing Grace,” also wrote these lines:
Strange and mysterious is my life;
What opposites I feel within!
A stable peace, a constant strife;
The rule of grace, the power of sin;
Too often I am captive led,
Yet often triumph in my Head.
I prize the privilege of prayer,
But O what backwardness to pray!
Though on the Lord I cast my care,
I feel its burden every day;
I’d seek his will in all I do,
Yet find my own is working too.
I call the promises my own,
And prize them more than mines of gold;
Yet though their sweetness I have known,
They leave me unimpressed and cold;
One hour upon the truth I feed,
The next I know not what I read.
Thus different powers within me strive,
And grace and sin by turns prevail;
I grieve, rejoice, decline, revive,
And victory hangs in doubtful scale;
But Jesus has his promise passed
That grace shall overcome at last.