Everyone has longing.
Many people, especially in Western cultures, try to fill this longing through finding satisfaction and fulfillment in life. We seek to find a field we enjoy to work in. We seek better job positions, better companies to work for, better promotions. We seek fulfilling relationships, whether by serving others or developing friendships or relationships with family. Some seek fulfillment or escape from the feeling of lack of fulfillment through different experiences:
- Sexual encounters
- Games on our phones
- Social media
- Netflix binging
- Drugs and alcohol
Many others seek to discipline their spirits to silence desire. In Buddhism, meditation and other means are used to try help one become free from attachment or “clinging” to things that are passing. It is desirable not to mentally be free from dependency on other people, physical items, and potential outcomes to feel whole. So, you can desire freedom from desire, you can enjoy things while they last, but you must discipline yourself inwardly to not be attached to:
- Your spouse, parent, child, or friend
- Your potential promotion
- That degree you are working toward
- That skill, experience, or ability you are so proud of
Longing and the Bible
In Ecclesiastes 3:11, God says something through Solomon. Solomon was given the gift of incredible wisdom from God. God offered him anything, and that is what he chose, and God said he chose wisely. God also gave Solomon access to every earthly thing that could be used to satisfy or make someone happy, and here is what Solomon said:
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
God set eternity in the hearts of people. What does that mean?
Eternity in Our Hearts
God has actually designed us to have a sort of restlessness in our souls. It is a longing beyond our physical and emotional needs. Even if all our physical and emotional needs are met, we can still feel it at times- this crying out for something beyond.
We can (and many of us do) try to silence this. We cover it up by:
- Filling all our silence with music
- Searching the internet
- Scrolling Facebook
- Vegging out in front of the TV
- Calling somebody
- Taking a class
We also cover it up by slowly, over time, shutting down our hearts. We get hurt by the thorns of life- a relationship that ends, a job that doesn’t work out, a “friend” that backstabs us, a goal we fall short of- and we decide:
If I try- if I love- I will only get hurt. Therefore, I will not try; I will not love.
Before heading off to downtown Chicago from my little farmhouse in central Indiana, I received a parcel in the mail. I was heading to college for the first time, and Moody Bible Institute had sent me homework before I even arrived. I was to read the book The Sacred Romance and I was to mark it all up- writing in the margins when I agreed or disagreed, highlighting important things, etc.
That book helped me realize that I had let the arrows of life teach me that longing was not good. I had been hurt deeply, so if I just don’t desire, then I can’t be hurt as badly. I had slowly, systematically, shut down eternity in my heart. Through the book, I realized that:
If I never experience- really experience- the griefs of life, then I will never experience- really experience the joys of life either.
If I shut down my longing that can only be met in God- that is designed to draw me to Him, then I will never be truly fulfilled and satisfied.
St. Augustine said:
Thou hast formed us for thyself, and our hearts are restless til they find rest in Thee.
The eternity in our hearts, the longing for something beyond, the restlessness is a gift. It is a gift to draw us to the only One who can satisfy and fulfill.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Jesus said in John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jesus came to restore our relationship with God so that through knowing Him, we might have the fullest kind of life possible. Are we really savoring that life that God has for us?
Have we even tasted it?
The eternity He has set in our hearts- this restlessness- can be satisfied through an eternal relationship with God (John 17:3)
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Think about your own life- all the desires and longing you have. How are you fulfilling your deepest longing- the one that can only be met in God? Only then can you approach your other desires in a healthy way.
I’ll leave you with C.S. Lewis’s opening to his sermon The Weight of Glory. May God help us all to fan into flame the eternity in our hearts:
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
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This blog is designed with you in mind. My prayer is that you will scooch just a little closer to the Lord’s beckoning arm. That you will nestle in close to Him and learn from Him all He wants to speak to your soul. That He will breathe on you His rest.
This blog is written to help you taste the fullest possible life- to bask in the depth of relationship and fulfillment that can only be experienced in the knowledge of God and in a life approached with our whole selves.
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