I would like to talk for a bit today about longing. There are so many things that we can long for and it creates this absolutely guttural feeling within us and an aching that resonates through our entire being. There are things that we each long for and have a persistent desire and craving for that goes beyond the simple gratification of a moment. When I think of longing I tend to think of three different categories in my own life. The things that come to mind are my longing for a healthy body with two legs, my longing for a child, and my (since fulfilled) persistent desire for a husband.
“O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.” Psalm 63:1-3
In regards to my health and body I believe because I am missing one leg I will never stop longing for two. It is only natural for me to dream and pray for the day that I may no longer stand on one foot a kilt off balance. It is a persistent desire and a craving within me to join others when I see them dancing, or to leap for joy when I am very excited! Twenty-five years after losing my leg there are times when I have a dream at night about dancing or running and I awake and savor the feeling of freedom from the dream all morning long. In my heart I ponder those things and replay them in my head over and over imagining that I am about to take a step and what it would feel like. Sometimes I have a flashback of walking as a child and I close my eyes and remember the way one foot follows through after the other and the feeling of the ground beneath two feet. I relish the memories of the textures beneath like dirt, concrete, stones, sand, etc and the way the skin of my feet would respond to the different textures. While walking again on two real feet is something that I will more than likely not experience in this lifetime I still will long and dream for what I believe is natural. I dare to allow myself to crave this and long for these things until the day they come to pass.
Another longing that I have in my heart is for a child. My husband and I have been married for three years and haven’t been blessed with a child as of this writing. I do believe the day is coming but in the meantime there is a longing within me that won’t leave until it comes to pass. We have prepared a room in our house for our child and continue to live with a generational mindset in anticipation. I buy things for our child, I preserve heirlooms for our child, and I even prepare writings for our child in anticipation of reading to him/her one day. Every week I enter our child’s room and spend quiet time glancing around vulnerably at the things we have prepared while praying and seeking God’s miracle in our life. Some days it hurts to even enter the room and my eyes fill with tears as I peek out from my downcast eyelids hoping that all of my preparation hasn’t been in vain. Another thing I find myself doing is enjoying and loving the children that are around us. Enjoying and spending time with nieces, nephews, children in church and friends. Even though every second of the “practice time” is wonderful it only satisfies the craving for but a moment. By the time we head home, alone, my heart is in my knees as I realize that until we have a child of our own the longing will never cease. It is during these times that I physically feel bruised on the inside from longing and aching for a child, my inheritance in Christ. Even still, in the midst of my pain, I long. I dare to allow myself to persist in seeking a child; knowing that the where and when of this is up to God and I must wait for His timing and direction.
Prior to meeting my husband I had my own apartment for four years. I had a career during this time and never seemed to run out of “friends” yet there was an aching within me to share with someone. I longed for the husband that would one day be my own. To me there was nothing inviting about coming home to a dark and empty apartment. I rescued a dog (my sweet Chihuahua Bebo who is with me to this day!) but was disappointed to realize that sharing with my complete nonjudgmental companion did not fill the gaping hole that was meant to be filled by my husband. During this time of longing I cannot even count the number of times I cried out to God from the floor of my apartment in loneliness. Many times I would cook a very nice meal for myself, light all the candles, and eat alone imagining what it would be like to have someone to do that with. Sometimes I would run a hot bath and put on my very best robe and sit there and pray for the man that would one day become my husband, whoever he was, wherever he was. Sparingly I would try to date men knowing full well in my heart that they were not meant to be my spouse but I (unwisely) allowed myself the moment to have someone to share with. As the days and the years passed I allowed myself to long for a husband while trusting God with His timing. No matter how much time passed or how many men I would meet in passing I never allowed myself to stop longing and yearning for the one that God had for me. I knew it was to be and despite the aching inside of me for a true companion I dared to feel those emotions and leave them to God while keeping an eye out for “the one”. Eventually I realized (through my then future-husbands persistence) that “the one” was living nearly 40 feet from my apartment and had been for two years!
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; and trust in and rely also on Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way.” John 14:1-2
“Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.” John 14:6
Recently I began to study the significance of the historical wedding covenant by Jewish culture. When Jesus walked the earth the wedding didn’t happen as it does today, a one day and done deal. There were several steps and sometimes even a year or more of time that would pass prior to the bride and bridegroom beginning their life together. First, the bridegroom would approach the bride’s father and offer a dowry or bride-price for the bride. Once this had been secured there would be a covenant exchanged in which the bride would be set apart for her bridegroom. The two were considered married at this point; it was considered a “done deal” even as the process was just beginning. With the bride being set apart for the bridegroom, the bridegroom would leave her and go back to his father’s house. There he would prepare a place for the bride and make a place for them to live and begin their own life and family. He would work on this for usually up to twelve months at which time the bride’s father would come and approve the living standards for which his daughter would reside.
Meanwhile, the bride would be at home with her father preparing for life with her husband. She would collect items and begin longing for the day her bridegroom would arrive to take her to her home. Even though she lived with her father, at this point she knew in her heart her home and purpose was elsewhere. She would yearn and wait for her bridegroom to come and bring her to the place he had prepared for her. The beauty of this period is that the bride would not know when the groom would come for her. She would continue longing as if he were coming that very day, always on edge, always waiting and keeping watch for him. She would allow herself to long for the one in hopes that soon he would return for her and her dreams would come to pass.
Finally, when everything was prepared to the best of his ability the bridegroom would set out unannounced (often at night) with his friends and servants to come for his bride. Once he arrived there would be a huge celebration and a seven day feast where the marriage would be consummated prior to their departure and the beginning of their life together.
Isn’t this beautiful? I think what makes it so wonderful is the idea that this is how we are referred to in the bible, as the bride of Christ. Jesus came, secured the covenant for us, paid the price on the cross, and went to prepare a place for us. Now, we are waiting, yearning, longing for His return and for him to take the troubles of this season away so that we may begin free as His bride.
Sometimes the things that we long for are the very things that we know are promised to us because of the price our bridegroom paid for us. We are longing for healing; for wholeness; for children as an inheritance; for intimacy and love; and so much more. It is good and it is right to have a longing within us for these things and seek our heavenly Father for that which we know is good!
In your own life what is it that you are longing for? Do you dare to feel those emotions? Do you allow yourself to live “on edge”, in anticipation of, and yearning for God to touch an area of longing of your life?
Do you allow yourself to touch the pain associated with craving and the ache of longing? It is so easy to push our longing onto a shelf and check out emotionally. Yet to be vulnerable enough to process these feelings and allow ourselves to know the ache of longing even in bits will bring us reward and true fulfillment when the day of triumph comes.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them; But the wise took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps.
While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order. And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. But the wise replied, There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves. But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us! But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].
Watch therefore [give strict attention and be cautious and active], for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.” Matthew 25: 1-13
Allow yourself to keep looking out the window for your bridegroom to arrive! He may arrive with healing, deliverance, a spouse, a child, financial blessing, a restored relationship, or whatever it is that you are longing for! When he shows up we do not want to be out of oil and out of touch with Him and our emotions! Stand guard and persistently desire that which is good and just and true!
While only one of my three longings have been fulfilled, I can honestly say that having been married now for three years to the love of my life every moment of my longing was worth it. I now look back to those days of crying out from the floor of my apartment and solo candlelight dinners as a joy. They were experiences of faith, intimacy, and seeking God. I will never have the opportunity to long for this and seek God for this again because my longing has been fulfilled. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to worship in my longing because my life has been forever changed not in just the fulfillment but in the process.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! For creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known, waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship” Roman 8:18-19
Longing is a very vulnerable place to be. It is scary because we realize there is always that slight possibility that the bridegroom will not show up, and our longing will not be fulfilled. Yet, even in the bible there were many men that did not live to see the promises which they toiled and longed for!
“ All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith.” Hebrews 11:39
Yet they didn’t give up their promises or their dreams. They never quit longing and because of them we are able to receive the promises of God through Christ. No matter how scared we are let us dare to crave, persistently desire, and long for those things which are the desires of our hearts. Record our longings in prayers, in journals, ponder them in our hearts, and live in the moment so that we can experience life to the fullest. Our treasure is in the journey. Rather than be immune to the present let us experience true freedom by allowing ourselves to be alive and in the moment.
Let’s look out the window now. Is the bridegroom coming?