The Bare Soul - August 2, 2009
God's Longing

Isaiah 30:18 - Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

Few things captivate a child's desire as longing for the first day of summer vacation. Once April gives way to May, an anxious girl or boy knows they can make it through those last few weeks to finally experience the bliss of June, July, and August. The only other time that might come close to the anticipation of summer vacation anticipation is Christmas vacation. This, however, is just a short recess in comparison to the eternity of summertime fun that lay ahead of a young child once the school year has ended. I vividly remember one particular last day of school. It was at the end of my 6th grade year. The bell sounded to excuse us from the interminably long last day. I raced out of the building and through the play ground to the grassy hillside leading me through the park to our house four blocks away. On that day I must have been feeling a bit too exuberant because I took a tumble down the hill and realized when I had quit falling that my hand was bloodied by a busted soda bottle. I anxiously ran home where I was rushed to the emergency room for several stitches. My desire and longing for summer and the fun I would have took a turn for the worse that day. While my buddies were joyously refreshing themselves for the next several days at the local pool, I was sulking and feeling like I had been cheated. More than anything, I was angry at myself for not controlling myself and my joyous desire. Within a week, however, my hand was healed and I was resuming my unfettered summer fun, albeit a bit more cautiously.

God has wired all of us to have desires and longings. It might be for a simple childhood wish as the end of school, or possibly a long awaited trip to an exotic destination as an adult. Of even greater importance is the innate longings that we have for one another in our relationships when we are apart. Having been created in God's image, we are merely displaying a bit of His DNA when we have godly desires. The prophet Isaiah wrote in both a poetic and visual manner when describing how the Heavenly Father desires to bestow his compassion on His children. The New American Standard (NAS) version captures chapter 30, and the beginning of verse 18 with poignant drama regarding the original Hebrew. While several versions translate this text as  ... the LORD waits to be gracious to you...,  the NAS beautifully states ... the LORD longs to be gracious to you ... . The Hebrew word in this instance is chakah (khaw-kaw') which literally means "to adhere to, or to await for with longing". Beloved, if we are in Christ Jesus and have been born again of His Spirit, then we have been welcomed into the family of God. As a loving father that desires nothing but love and goodness for his children, so the Heavenly Father is watching over us with an anxiousness to bestow upon us His eternal compassions. However, there is an important caveat to God's longings -- He desires us to long for Him with a passionate desire that provokes Him to action. When my children were small, they would often get excited when they saw me come through the door after a day at work. Nothing provoked me more to want to sweep them up in my arms when I saw their delight that I was home. Similarly, I see that today in my year old grandson. We have grown very close and I know that there is a longing and desire on both our parts to spend time together. When I enter a room where he might be playing and he sees me, he often squeals with joy and comes crawling toward me with abandonment.

Nothing gives God more joy than when we long for His company. However, life often has a way of keeping us from His presence. Whether it be the necessity of school or work or any number of daily tasks that require our utmost attention, a believer can many times sense a distance between them and God. The Lord understands that we have earthly responsibilities that we must attend to. He merely wants us to long for Him when we sense His absence much the same way that He is constantly longing for us. Everyday, He stretches forth His hands of compassion toward all humankind. His delight is when we reach upward toward Him. James, the brother of Jesus wrote in chapter 4, and verse 8 of his letter: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you ... (James 4:8). It is a spiritual axiom that God will suffer the heartbreak of rejection rather than moving with impunity on a soul that continues to rebuff His love. His greatest desire is for a man or a woman that will desperately seek Him out, longing for His appearing in their respective lives (II Chronicles 16:9). The prophet Isaiah states that we are "blessed" if we have this type of desire for His presence, for God will speedily bring about the justice of His compassion if we will but continue to seek Him (Luke 18:7).

It is within both our carnal and spiritual natures to long or to desire after any number of things. God's desire is of course that we would long for Him and the things of His kingdom. As the nature of man is corrupt by sin, the flesh desires a plethora of unholy lusts. Likewise, the regenerate man or woman who is born of the Spirit of God has been given the blessed opportunity to long for and pursue His grace and compassion. Sometimes, in our youthful exuberance we may rush headlong and "bloody" ourselves with our own pursuits as we fall momentarily from grace. Other times, we will experience the Father sweeping us up into His arms as we delight in His presence. The more we long for and pursue Him, the more He will make known His compassion and demonstrative grace within our lives. May we all long for His appearing, both now and at the end of this present age.

Heavenly Father, may we long for You with a passion and a fury not born on earth, but one that is imparted from Your Divine Life. Fill us with desire for your presence. For as we long for You, surely you will reveal the longings of Your eternal grace toward us who would but trust and believe. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

 

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