We yearn. Pant. Thirst. Long. Faint. Cry out. In the Psalms in Job and in Isaiah we cry out to the Lord with desire, with aching, with hunger.
“I will see him with my own eyes.” [Job 19:25-27]
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” [Psalm 42:1-2]
“I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” [Psalm 61:4-5]
“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord.” [Psalm 84:2]
“My soul faints with longing for your salvation.” [Psalm 119:81]
“I long for your salvation, Lord.” [Psalm 119:174]
“My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.” [Isaiah 26:9]
“Even the angels long to look into these things(grace, sufferings, glory).” [1 Peter 1:12]
We long to know the Lord, to live in His presence, to be saved. How would you express your yearning for God? What would satisfy your thirst for Him most? The Psalms in general and the 119th in particular express the longing of our souls that is innate in us, usually unexpressed and unknown until we have an encounter with the Living God. And then that ache, that longing begins to come to the surface of our lives. Sometime last fall, I began to ache for union with God. And still, my heart desires it. When I read of it or just experience His presence, I am aware again of this longing in me.
We human beings are all made this way, although we might all express the longing differently or we might be totally unaware of it. It is a part of the image of God implanted in us at our creation, a potential that can be activated at any time by the One who planted it there.
Are you aware of your own longing for God? How would you draw near to God who is also longing for you? If we look to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, there is the father standing at the entrance to his house, watching and waiting for the return of the Prodigal, the Lost Son. He anticipates his arrival, hopes to catch him as he approaches, repentant of his choices. The father is longing for his son’s return.
“You will call and I will answer you;/ You will long for the creature your hands have made.” Job 14:15
“I long to redeem them.” Hosea 7:13
“Is not Ephraim my dear son,
The child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him,
I still remember him.
Therefore, my heart yearns for him;
I have great compassion for him, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:20-22
Our great longing for God meets His great longing for us! While the Prodigal Son is regretting his choices and deciding he will be happy to live as a servant in his father’s house, the father is not dwelling on the mistakes he made! He is long past forgiveness and into joyful welcome: he kills the fatted calf, celebrates His son’s return and restores him to his rightful place in the household. Isn’t this the most disarming thing that happens to us and the hardest thing for us to wrap our judging minds around? For we are welcomed back with love and forgiveness, not even a mention is made of all we have done that the Lord has already forgiven us for. No need to state our sin; no call to justify our existence; no tarnished slate. It has all been wiped clean by our turning back to God. Forgiven. Done with. At least that is God’s attitude when we turn back to Him.
For us it is not so simple. We don’t know how to deal with forgiveness, we are used to punishment. We can’t take in His love; we are used to criticism. We are undone by His grace and the blessings He offers us. We have to learn how to accept His love for us, to stop pushing it away as if we would never be worthy of it. He doesn’t hold on to judgment like those of us in the world do. He pours out his love on us, period. And so, we have to accept the gift, his grace, just as it is: Love itself. And promise to the Lord to take in that love and give it out to the world as it was given to us–freely and without judgment.
The nature of love, God’s love, is free-flowing and unstoppable. It flows into us and out of us just as easily as we open our arms and hearts to others, just as He has opened His arms to us.
Questions to ponder over the week: What are you longing for? What is your deepest longing? Do you allow your longings to form your life through prayer, through deep listening to the “still, small voice” of God? How far would you go into the relationship with Jesus Christ to make your longings come alive?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who know what they long for and work to realize that in their lives. May we be true to our deeper, truer selves. May we be true to God’s longing for us.
Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for ideas about spiritual practices and more.
I am collecting conversion stories. If you’d like to share yours, I would love to read it. I’m not sure yet what the Lord has in mind for them, but in the mean time I am collecting a bunch. I will only use your initials if they are published.