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提起「切慕、渴慕」，就會想起《如鹿切慕溪水》（As the Deer）這首詩歌：
As the Deer Pants for Water
Rev Arnold Chow
The words "pant" or "long for" bring to my mind the hymn "As the Deer":
As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee
It is a beautiful, calm and mellow tune, and it makes the panting somewhat romantic. Perhaps that is why the hymn is a favorite for devotionals and retreats.
In the Old Testament, the word "pant" appears in Psalm 42 and Joel 1. But if you read Psalm 42, which is the source of the above lyrics, you will find that the environment portrayed there is much more difficult than romantic.
In Joel 1:20 where the word "pant" is also used, the Bible says: "Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness."
The picture depicted in the two Bible passages is far from poetic, not the "I miss you, I long for you" type. It is one of drought and disaster: A deer or some animal looks for water everywhere gasping, with its mouth wide open for just a drop of water. Coupled with the descriptions that follow in Joel, the basic tone is one of gloom – one in which no light of day is in sight. The people of God are powerless in the face of the impending disaster. But if a victim, an animal, knows it should "pant for" God, shouldn't the people of God do the same?
Frankly speaking, we do not always long for God. When difficulties arise and families suffer, when the city is hit by a radical change, the future becomes uncertain with no way out in sight, and when vigorous sentiments abound, that is exactly when we need to long for God.
The Lord declares, "Even now…return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning" (Joel 2:12). The literal translation of "even now" is "yet," "even so" and "now," meaning that even under such dreadful circumstances, we still need to return to God "with all your heart." That means doing so wholeheartedly, with no regrets and no reservation. We run to the Lord just like deer dashing towards a stream of water.
Today, we are going through difficulties we have never known. This of course prompts us to continue to seek a solution. Meanwhile, being the people of God, we need to make a conscious effort to come before the Lord. "Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly" (Joel 2:15).
It is never easy to put aside one's expectations and promises, thinking and plans. But the Bible exhorts us to act differently from the world. When the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine, let us set ourselves apart. Let us consecrate and sanctify ourselves. In all the uncertainty, let us resume the identity of a royal priesthood. Let us remain focused, sanctified and reflective and consistently represent our society to run towards God. Let us long for Him just like deer panting for water.