Friday, March 8th
Long: to feel a strong desire or craving especially for something not likely to be attained
Psalm 63:1 (NRSV)
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
John 4:13-14 (NRSV)
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
I was actually working on this devotion with the word long when Jim and I read a meditation based on these verses from John 4. I wondered aloud, “Why do we feel this holy longing for God- if Jesus has given us this living water that assures us we will never be thirsty?” If we have this spring of water gushing up within us, why do we feel spiritually dry and parched at times? Why do we still long for Christ’s presence, if we have his Spirit always with us?
Oh, there are many times when we do feel this refreshing water bubbling up within us. Times when we feel filled to the brim with the refreshing joy of the Spirit and the cleansing love of Christ. Moments when unexpected peace surrounds us in the midst of heartache or chaos. Constant and persistent hope that remains when we are facing difficulty or uncertainty. We know that the living waters are at work- washing, renewing, and refreshing us for our daily living.
Still, there are many days when I feel an emptiness, a yearning to retreat from the world and spend time with God in solitude. I almost ache to be in the presence of Christ. I long for time in a small group study or a quiet evening devotion. I am eager to worship each week, to gather with others for praise and spiritual growth. I long for Christ’s presence quite often, even as I carry this presence within me. Why would this happen?
“What you seek is seeking you.” ~Rumi
Rumi is insightful. Imagine you have invited your family or friends to gather for a special meal. You eagerly plan the menu, choosing the recipes you know your loved ones will enjoy. You happily prepare the food and arrange the place settings, envisioning the joy, laughter, conversation and fellowship that will be shared around the table. You can’t wait to hear words of gratitude and appreciation for your labor of love, the stories that have transpired since the last meal, the fond memories that are recalled, and even the doubts and questions to be discussed and considered.
Your loved ones do come but they hurriedly eat the meal in silence and rush off to their next commitment. Yes, they now have the nourishment and sustenance they need for their daily living, but you have missed spending time together. You have missed sharing and listening, encouraging and debating, caring and learning, while deepening in friendship and love.
The living waters of Christ are within us, providing and nourishing us for our busy lives and daily challenges. Still, there are times when Jesus is calling us to gather, to pause, to simply spend time in shared conversation and friendship with him and with one another. Jesus has given us his living water for eternity, but let’s not make a habit of grabbing a drink on the run or only when we need it. Our holy longing is an invitation from Jesus to come and sit for a while.
We long for Jesus, because Jesus longs for us.
*All definitions will be excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash