Saturday, November 05, 2016

Waiting.. For More

This is Belle.  She's an old sheep dog who enjoys life on the Middle Tennessee farm where she's lived with her owners for many, many years.  They love her and take very good care of her.  Needless to say, Belle is a very happy dog.  It makes me laugh watching her head bob up and down as she bounces with excitement while I talk to her.

When her owners leave home, Belle sits patiently waiting for them to return, employing her hearing and vision to their fullest capacity as she scans the horizon.  She waits. Waiting for the faintest promise of their return.. a disturbed flock of birds escaping to the sky, the low rumble of gravel on the driveway, the distant hum of the car engine.  She remains committed, contented in her posture of waiting, as she keeps the people she loves most at the forefront of her heart and mind.

Recently, Belle's owners left on an extended trip.  While they were gone she guarded her territory well, barking warnings at unknown shapes moving in the distant fields, and at the donkeys she knows so well in the field.  Each day her owners were away she sat for hours, transfixed, watching the driveway by which she knew they'd return to her.

My guess is that you've experienced moments, even seasons, of waiting.  Waiting is always bitter-sweet.  The bitterness we've known emerges from the distance between us and the people, the object we long for, or the hoped for opportunity.  This bitterness is like the shadow cast by a solar eclipse- it can seem to overshadow everything, taking our attention captive, but if it lasts too long it can do harm to our souls.  On the other hand, there is a sweetness in longing too.  The sweetness we know in longing grows from the joy in the hope of longing fulfilled.. that moment when we are no longer gazing at a far off reality, but experiencing it, or him/her, face-to-face.

There is a word, a German word, which expresses well what we may experience in periods of waiting,.  I wanted to make sure I shared the fitting translation of this special word, so I asked my best German 'Freund' in Berlin, Carl, to confirm it.  This wonderful and mysterious word is 'sehnsucht'.  And as I had hoped, it is best translated as 'longing', or even better.. 'yearning'.  I don't know about you, but the times I feel a longing or yearning most intensely are the times I have no words to express what I'm feeling.  For someone like myself who loves words, there are few times I am wordless, but these are those times.

While you and I may have no trouble identifying temporal objects/subjects that we yearn for, there are yearnings and longings deeper still, within each one of us, that betray our vaporous, short-sighted affections.  These ancient yearnings are truer to our original, unbent selves.  Even the world around us knows this depth of yearning, this longing for a reality lost but coming into view again.. "We know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time."  (Romans 8:22, GW)  All creation desires for us what we have lost sight of for ourselves and each other.  We have forgotten who we truly are.. forgotten the reason for which we came into the world.  "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.." (Romans 8:19, RSV)  We've forgotten ourselves because we've forgotten Our Father.

As you awaken to your thirst, your hunger, for the love of the Father, all will be made clearer as you reach out to Him.  He has and is already reaching out to you.  To regain the living relationship once lost to us, ask Him for forgiveness (restoration of relationship always follows forgiveness) and set your heart to follow the One who made the Father's heart known to us - His Son, Jesus Christ.  Don't stress, you don't have to present yourself in your 'business best' attire, He'll welcome you as you are!  You'll never be alone because His Spirit and His love will fill your soul, ushering you into a reality you never knew you desired or needed.  That's just the beginning.  As you continue to walk and work with Jesus in renewing all things, there will be times you have no words.  But when they fail, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."  (Romans 8:26, ESV).  That same groaning, bubbles up from within you, pointing to a future that has yet to come into existence, but without a doubt, will.

Eminent author and theologian, C.S. Lewis, spoke to the inklings within our human soul that harken back to our heart's true home.  He wrote,

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

(Mere Christianity)  

Just like Belle, at various times in the course of your everyday life you'll find yourself working and waiting, scanning the distance for a sign, any sign, that there's something more.  Your yearnings and longings may find expression through Spirit-inspired groaning (feelings without words) that bring into focus a future God is ushering in, just over the horizon.  If you sit still long enough and listen, you may begin to hear it rumbling toward you, just at the end of the driveway.