We are like that dove!
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"But the dove could find no resting place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth. So it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark." Genesis 8:9
This passage has been beautifully applied to the condition of a Christian wandering over earth in search of rest — and disappointed, returning at length to his Savior — glad to be received again into His bosom, where alone there is peace. Surely he who has been accustomed to drink at the pure fountain of spiritual joy, can never find rest for the soul in this polluted world.
How true is it, that to one whose affections have been directed to things above — earthly pleasures seem to have lost their usual relish. No prospect however beautiful — no pleasures however tantalizing can be enjoyed — without the associated presence and blessing of God. Yet when God is recognized in them, and the heart is properly affected towards Him — then do even earthly scenes acquire an additional interest.
But let the Christian lose sight for a season of his heavenly inheritance, and wander over earth's surface in search of worldly good — how soon will he find an unsatisfying vacuity, where not even an olive leaf shall be found to greet his eye or to cheer his heart. The Christian may so far backslide, as to wish to explore anew the world which he professes to have forsaken — and God may allow him to do so. But O how soon his wing will tire, and his prospect become gloomy! Glad will he be to return and flutter around the ark, longing to be taken in, where he can once more feel himself happy and at home. And Jesus kindly extends His hand to take us in — even when we have sinfully wandered from His loving arms.
Why is it that we can be so often deceived? Have we not tried the world — and have we not been disappointed in the pursuit? Never again then let us leave the sacred ark — never again wander from our Lord.
Ever blessed God, You have taught us to find our supreme felicity in You — for You are an all-sufficient portion. But O how prone are we to wander from You — to forsake "You, the fountain of living waters, and hew out cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water."
But away from You, how can we he happy? How soon does sadness invade our hearts, and sorrow sit upon our eye-lids! The creature cannot make us blessed. We have tried the creature — and found all on earth to be but vanity. Wander where we will — from place to place, from pleasure to pleasure — all is unsatisfying, if you O God are absent.
We are like that dove, when out of the ark, which saw itself surrounded by one wide waste of waters. How glad was she to get back within her sacred retreat! Just so, O Savior, would we gladly flee into Your loving arms. We will search no longer for happiness here below. Henceforth, let us repose on Your kind bosom. Let us feel a holy indifference to the attractions of this deceitful world. May it be our privilege to be taken at last unto that secure ark — that glorious Heaven where no storms can come, and no temptations allure our souls away from you. Amen.