Unfulfilled longings

5 Comments

When was the last time excitement and happy anticipation filled all your waking thoughts about the future?  Like you were on the cusp of a grand adventure?

I have 3 such vivid memories.

The first was when I was 8.  It was summer.  Mom woke me up to the day of our trip to Europe.  With a rush of happiness I dove into my clothes.  We probably spent a couple of months in Europe that summer.  But I remember no details of that trip, just those few moments waking up and knowing something good was about to happen.

The next such memory was the summer before college.  My parents, my grandmother and I took off on a cross-country road trip from Hampton, Virginia with the goal of sampling the rich variety of America.  I don’t remember any place we visited.  Just the intense longing and excitement for the début of my college experience.  That 3rd week of August could not come fast enough!

The last thrill-providing time, flavored also with a touch of carefreeness, was when Mike and I were in between Army assignments.  We had officially ‘signed out’ of our duty stations in Germany and had NO responsibilities.  We leisurely spent 10 days, all expenses paid, staying in a cute German hotel, while we completed the out-processing steps typical of a bureaucracy.  Ahead of us were 30 days of visiting family, traveling coast to coast while angling south to our next assignment at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona.  We also were expecting our first child and toyed with the idea of buying our first home.  The future glittered bright.

Since then?  It sounds sad, but I can’t recall anything else that has filled me with such pure joy, as intense as that very first morning.  But I keep longing for that something.

The other night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I wallowed in some self-pity and dread about work on the morrow.  Once again, I found myself tugging at God’s shirtsleeve and pleading for a new job to replace the one He has given me.  Yes, I am grateful for the income, but I long for something different.  Yet I fear more often than not that He only gives what is ‘hard’ and a ‘pain’ because through suffering we learn how to lean into Him. And I don’t give up asking and praying.

This morning I had my thinking tweaked in a helpful manner by John Piper.  His sermon about our inheritance as children, heirs and fellow sufferers with Christ reminded me that the way God has created this world is NOT for us to find ultimate satisfaction in earthly pleasures.

Yet He has wired us to WANT to be satisfied, to be thrilled, to be delighted and excited about the future.  So what’s up with that?  Is God a ‘cosmic kill-joy’?

May it never be thought so!  CS Lewis wrote once about unfulfilled desires when he penned:

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

So, what I concluded last night was this:  My longing for a job or SOMETHING that will thrill me is not wrong.  God put that ache in me by design.  But He never intended me to seek to satisfy it HERE on Earth with activities like: hot cars, extreme sports, binge shopping, or completing one’s bucket list.

He has told us in His Word that we ARE to stoke up our desire and longings, but not for what this world offers.  Rather we are to focus our yearnings on what He has promised and prepared for those who belong to Him.

“and we have a priceless inheritance–an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” 1 Peter 1:4

Just knowing and meditating on the FACT that ONE DAY all those hungers will be über-fulfilled IS enough for today.  In fact, each day I live brings me one day closer to my inheritance and that forever life WITH our happy, triune God.

“….in Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11

 

Longings and Disappointments

2 Comments

Are you disappointed in how life has turned out so far?  If you are honest with yourself and are over 40, have you flirted with the scary thought that maybe your most intense dreams/desires just won’t be fulfilled?

Dreams - unfulfilled

 

 

 

 

I’m thinking of friends who:

  • have yet to find a spouse, but desire to be married
  • are not able get pregnant
  • long for a family member to come to Christ
  • struggle with chronic overweight, out-of-control spending or other addictions and feel locked into unhealthy patterns
  • can’t seem to find their vocational calling and have it line up with paying work

I have such a dream. When I was a teenager living in Europe thanks to a military dad, I discovered what a rush it was to speak another language and live immersed in a different culture. I reveled in speaking French and German. I often thought that my ideal job would be to work as a clerk in a shop, never mind what it sold, and have that daily interaction with the public be IN another language.

Vendeuse dans une boulangerie

My fantasy, then,  as a young girl was to marry a Swiss and raise our children to be at  least trilingual. This was before I was a Christian and knew about the blessing of being wed to another believer. Thanks be to our God who sovereignly guides our lives. He overrode my young girl’s top 5 qualities in a future husband and brought Michael into my life at the age of 22.

And He gave me a few bites of my dream during the first 10 years of our marriage.

But it’s been years now and that dream of living in Europe and conducting our daily lives via another language has yet to be fulfilled. I often wonder if it will.

Yet, I am beginning to grasp a longer view of life. CS Lewis argues that longings are not in vain.  Given how our normal every-day desires like hunger, fatigue or the need for sexual and social fulfillment can be met in healthy ways, one can argue that there is no such thing as a true unfulfilled desire.  If God planted a desire in us, it is because He intends to fulfill it.  A thorough essay exploring this argument can be found here: Argument from Desire

I’ve begun, now, to quiet myself and let go of potential disappointment.  God is not One to waste anything. It’s been argued that He uses even our suffering.  Why should He then NOT use our longings?  In fact, my theory is that He plants those desires, gives us talents and experiences/practice to hone the skills with the plan to make use of EVERY ONE OF THEM! God has the long view and is not impatient.

And it could just be that those plans are not meant for THIS phase of life, our 80-90 years in a fallen world.  But they are intended for the life to come – the one that is more permanent.

  • So to my friend who has two nieces who long both for a godly Christian husband AND children – maybe those gifts for homemaking and interaction with children are going to be used LATER!
  • And to my dear husband, who would love to sing again from that Anglican repertoire with a group of professional musicians, keep looking forward to that day!
  • And to my departed dad who dreamed of running again with the full energy of youth, I pray to see you doing just that one of these days.

As for me? With my love for languages and learning, I think God has given me THOSE gifts for joy-filled purposes that I can only glimpse.

Best is yet to come - CS Lewis

%d bloggers like this: