“Lord, what is it that you have been doing in me?
I have felt it for months now and continued to push it away. Like the child who wants nothing to do with the broccoli she is being served at dinnertime, I have slid my plate across the table- far from my sight and wanting little to do with it. I have begun to feel that you want more of me, but if I’m honest, I’ve felt it for a while now. It feels gentle and loving, but a tad pushy as well. I know this feeling deep down, even if I don’t want to admit it out loud. It’s the feeling that you want to grow and mold me; change me to become more like You. And I am running from it, hiding from it. The days that I am most aware of You, I find myself wanting, desiring, and even longing for the change to fall on me like a fresh spring rain, refreshing me with little to no effort on my part. On my worst, and realistically, most of my days I find myself filled with apathy and devoid of any motivation to truly move towards you at all. And now it is months later, and I am no closer to you. In fact, I am now somewhat depressed and painfully aware of how I have drifted from you, to the point where all I have are longings.”
I wrote those words in my journal a few weeks ago, and for the first time in months, I have begun to pick apart the feelings and longings in my heart as opposed to just being content that they are there.
Over the past several months, I have realized that, in almost every area of my life, I am overcome with longing.
I long for a healthier lifestyle and a better body.
I long for a marriage that exemplifies Jesus in every area.
I long for adventure.
I long for peace.
I long for a home that people feel welcome in.
And I love the way that C.S. Lewis puts it so wonderfully,
“If we find ourselves with a longing that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
I believe God has placed a small taste of Heaven in each of our hearts so that we would not become satisfied or content with the things of this world. He made us to have this insatiable craving that will continue to grow more and more until we reach Him, and it cannot be satisfied by anything or anyone other than Him. Even in the midst of our busy lives that are so full of attractive and desirable things and possibilities, I believe that God put this sort of “homing beacon” deep within us, so that if we want, we can always find our way back to Him. Jesus speaks of this topic with a woman at a well. One of my favorite stories, in fact. In John chapter 4, Jesus encounters a woman coming to a well to get her daily supply of water. She came to the well by herself at noon, the hottest time of the day, presumably to avoid others. I can imagine she is tired, ashamed, weary, and possibly a tad frustrated with her life. Whatever her baggage though, it is clear that she is longing for more in her life. Maybe she longs for friendship, maybe she longs for rest, peace, love, or comfort. Jesus can tell she is seeking something, but instead of addressing this directly, He tells her of a “living water” that will quench her thirst for eternity. At first, the woman doesn’t believe Him. She asks the logical question, “How will you get this living water when you don’t even have a bucket to draw it with?” Jesus then makes it clear that this water he speaks of cannot be found in a well, but in a person. Jesus clarifies more,
“Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the waterI give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13
This woman and I are seriously two peas in a pod. Like her, I jump from one thing to the next, hoping that it will be the thing that truly satisfies me. While her vice seemed to be men, mine is more along the lines of activities and outward appearances. However, we both seek the same things; validation, acceptance, and satisfaction. I looked for peace in a bubble bath and candles, I looked for adventure in vacations and trips, I looked for a welcoming home in well-cooked meals and clean living rooms. I looked for satisfaction, completion, and acceptance everywhere except what was right in front of my face, and none of these things seemed to satisfy the true longing deep down, because none of them were designed to!
When I step back and look at all the things I long for, most are rooted in this belief that I need to be better, try harder, and achieve some level of perfection. Which is the opposite of the Gospel! And whether I was believing that it would gain my own self-approval, other’s approval of me, or ultimately God’s approval, all are lies that I have chosen over time to believe and are now ingrained in how I think and operate. The reality is that God loves and accepts me as I am in this very moment. God accepts and loves YOU in this very moment, too. He never asks me to clean myself up or do away with my shame or guilt before I approach him. He doesn’t instruct us to reach a certain “christian level” before he hears us or cares about our desires. He freely offers himself to all of us, which is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy the true longing in your heart, which is to love and be loved by your creator. And whatever it is that you long for, whatever it is that you crave,the only one who can satisfy the human heart is the One who made it.
And yet, while I claim to know this, I still lose sight of it. I still try to fill myself with water from the well- things that cannot and will not truly satisfy me. And yet Jesus stands next to that very same well where I struggle to throw down my bucket and draw up that water that he knows won’t satisfy me, and he lovingly says, “My child, whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
God is inviting you, and me, into more than just longing – he’s inviting us into a deep relationship with Himself. There, true satisfaction is found. There, he is waiting to offer us full and complete acceptance, validation, and satisfaction. I find that I must remind myself daily that Jesus wants to satisfy my longings, and that only he can. So, today, I choose to drink from the living water and trust Him to satisfy my needs and desires. Who’s with me? Bottoms up, ladies!