The Art of Longing
Playing the waiting game is hard. We live in a society that desires instant gratification. We want things now, in fact, yesterday would've been better. I hate waiting. I use Amazon Prime so I can get what I want in two days. They've spoiled me so much that I now hate paying for shipping anywhere else. If you don't have free shipping and can get it to me quick, then I probably have a hard time shopping with you.
That being said, waiting on the Lord is hard. Longing for God can be work. I want God here and now. I want to know what He has for me now. I want to experience His presence immediately. Where are you God?
I want to contend today that I think we need to long more. What does it mean to long anyway? Merriam-webster.com defines longing as, "a strong desire especially for something unattainable." It gives a synonym as craving. I think we often long for things such as new shoes, a phone, computer, food, etc. We can fill in that blank with anything.
Do we long to be with God? I think the difference between longing for stuff and longing for the presence of God is that there's a discontentment when I'm longing for stuff that will only provide temporary satisfaction when I acquire it. When I long for God, there's a joy I experience. I think this is in part because I already have the Holy Spirit and my longing for more of God or to be in His presence produces a joy in me that can only be explained because of Christ's death in my place. I already know the sweetness that is found in Christ, but I also know there is more and more to be had.
On True Joy
In Psalm 84:1-2 the psalmist says, "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God."
Do we know this kind of longing? Do we desire more of God that much? Do we hear the desperation of the Psalmist to be in the courts of God? Are we willing to do anything to get there?
Later in the Psalm the psalmist continues by saying, "For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness" (vs. 10).
The psalmist is expressing just how desirable it is to be even near the Lord. Give me one day in His courts and that is more preferable than 1,000 anywhere else. One day near God is sweeter than 1,000 away from Him.
I had a friend in college who once expressed to me that he would like to just have the job of sweeping up after the Passion conferences that are popular among college students. He just wanted to be a part of what was going on there, so much so, that he was willing to be the janitor just to have a roll.
This is the same sentiment expressed by the psalmist here. I'd rather be a doorkeeper in God's house than dwell anywhere else. I'd rather have one of the most humble or seemingly insignificant positions in God's house than have a position of high esteem or authority anywhere else.
From these statements, we must infer that there is so much joy to be found in God's house! There is joy in longing for God! It is sweet and enthralling to pine for or crave after Him. The longing to know God more only spurs us on to long for more and more of God! The most joyous realization for us should be that we can only go deeper with Him and that there is always more to know! The pursuit of God is the pursuit of never-ending joy!
Are we longing for God in this way? Are we convinced that it's better to scrub toilets in His house than to be a king elsewhere? Are we wasting our affections longing for things that will temporarily satisfy?
The writer of Psalm 84 is inviting us into eternal, everlasting joy. To know God and be in His presence is so much sweeter than all the riches of the world. "O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!" (Psalm 84:12).