I have this tendency to think that I can’t allow myself to listen to the longings of my heart. I have learned so well to stuff them down. One bible teacher has said that she begs God to give her such holy desires that she can allow herself to run with her longings…to indulge that which surfaces without hesitation! I think that is a great prayer!
John Eldredge in Walking With God makes an excellent point. God sometimes allows our longings to surface…actually causes something to cross our path that triggers a desire. We can stifle it (not usually a good idea), or ask God about it. The entire book is about welcoming God into everyday moments of life.
For instance, I see a woman and her beautiful horse down at the arena. They are like music together. Poetry in motion. She rides bareback and bridleless and my eyes well up with tears at such a beautiful partnership. What’s more, this isn’t merely about beautiful mechanical movement together. There is a softness in horse and rider that speaks of something so beyond just “moving” without tack. As the lady dismounts, it is evident that the horse just adores her and she him. They not only DO together, they ARE together. It stirs something in my heart. Something deep.
I will miss it if I begin to think I need to work with my horses more to get this and that is the answer to the longing I feel. There is something that is deep inside all right, but it is so much more than having an almost magical relationship with my horses. What is deeper? What is really beneath all of this?
John Eldredge says:
More often than not, this awakening of desire is an invitation from God to seek what we’ve given up as lost, an invitation to try again…
(Walking with God, page 187)
In fact, what is at the heart of most of my longings?
What God uses to awaken desire is not necessarily what we long for. The things “in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things…are good images of what we desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself.” They are not what we are longing for.
(Walking with God, page 187)
The point is, when we see desire or longing surface, instead of pondering how we can get the thing that we think it is about or instead of shoving the desire down, we can sit with God in it…and ask him, “God, what is this about? What do you have for me in this? What is your intention in allowing this longing, this desire to surface? I don’t want to miss what you have for me in it.”
Admittedly, this is risky…he may let me sit a while with the question hanging in the air between us.
When I do anything other than extend this invitation to God, it–the desire and longing that I have felt–most assuredly will work against me…either turn me toward something that will become an addiction, a false pacifier, or the deadening of my heart or all of the above.
There is something deep going on here. I sense it. Right now, I am at peace with things more than I have been in a long while. I have to admit, though, I wonder if it isn’t cyclical! If in a couple of weeks, I will be churning just as much as I was a week ago. The nature of my blog postings could cause anyone a serious case of whiplash, I am sure! 🙂
But right now, today, I am optimistic. I see the longings, the desires, the misplaced indulgences as indicators that God is up to something big in my life…
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.