Learning to Long for God

Contentment, or the lack of it, is really an issue of the heart. In order to really understand our own feelings we need to look at our wants and longings. We cannot be content apart from knowing what we want or long for.

I took a long hard look at my wants and longings when I went through my first Recalibrate Life read, Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. And I revisited the responses of my heart again as I read Abundant Simplicity by Jan Johnson in February.

One of the questions at the end of the second chapter in Abundant Simplicity is,”How would you like to see your life progressively more organized around God and His eternal life?” This is a question that intrigued me– especially since it came near the end of a chapter about contentment, wants, and longings.

The question took me back to my responses in Sacred Rhythms on my wants and longings. The act of talking with the Lord about my hearts’ desires was very precious, it was a very tender time. I shared about this in my post last month, My Response to Sacred Rhythms. I think this was true because I finally realized that all of my longings come out of a deeper neediness for more of the Lord.

In a way that surprised me, even though I knew this truth as head-knowledge. But the things we want whether it is about money, deeper intimacy in our relationships, feeling more loved, having more or better possessions, or accomplishing certain goals, are all rooted in our hunger for God and His love. I believe our longings are God-given. But, our longings are put in us to draw us to know Him more, to depend on Him more, and to find what we need in Him more.

In looking at my personal longings and seeking to reach for them, I realized that when I am not reaching for the Lord and especially for Him to meet my hearts’ longing, I am on the wrong path. If I am instead pursuing the end product or result for my own glory or others’ acceptance or personal security, I am missing the point.

The Lord delights in meeting our needs and satisfying our hearts’ desires, but if He sees those desires leading us away from Him, He will try to turn our focus back to Him.

So, back to that question, the one that has really tugged at my heart: How would you like to see your life progressively more organized around God and His eternal life?

Simplicity and contentment of heart depend on my focus. If my focus is scattered and I am living distracted, going after all of my desires to fulfill my own longings, the Lord will intervene. He will intervene because that is the wrong path. and He knows that I will not find contentment in the chaos that brings.

When I pursue God and my focus is on my relationship with Him, when it is on pleasing Him, and living for Him and His will, then, that is where I will find the heart of simplicity. And I have found that He will grant me contentment as I recognize Him as my All in All.

So, yes, I may want to grow my blog or finish my manuscript. But what do I do with that longing? My goal is to connect with the Lord in each longing. It is about wanting to bring Him into the longing, for Him to be at work within it and within me. And in that longing, as I prayed, I realized that I want Him to work in me and my life so other lives can be touched by Him through my words. I need to know Him more. I need to see His hand and heart touching my life, so I can share the glory of His wondrous work.

This demonstrates “organizing my life around God and His eternal life.” No matter what the longing is, if my life is to be more organized around God, I have to see that He is always what I want, or Who I want more of, more than anything else.

Our longings can so easily be mixed up with wrong motives. That is why Johnson’s question is so important to explore. We can get so caught up in self and self-sufficiency. We tend to live so unaware of the relationship of our longings and our need for God. It is so very important that we take it all, each of our longings, into His presence.

As I took each of my longings and brought them back to my deep need for the Lord, I sought to see Him as the center of my longings. This process helped me to see the path to simplifying my life. I also came to learn much about my deep-ceded personal fears. Fears of rejection, fear of replacement, fear of not belonging, or of lack of acceptance, fear of being misunderstood, and the fear of not having all I think I need. I discovered lots of fears within my longings. But all of this took me back to seeking God. That is what organizing my life around God is about.

Johnson says, “If we want to want God our next step is to come to terms with our underlying fears. We start where we are. We invite God to work with us on these fears so we can begin drinking God’s living water, God’s own Spirit…”

I know that I want to want God more, I want to love Him with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength, but I continuously fall short. So I must daily look at these inner longings and talk with Him about them. I need to look at my calendar and my planner and see what my life and my schedule really say about what I want. Where am I spending my time? How am I spending my money? Where am I seeking security and acceptance? The proof and truth will shine brightly there.

This isn’t a “one-time-and-done” response regarding how to organize life around God. It is an ongoing check and re-check of our longings and what our lives are says about how we are living them out.

So, I am learning to long more for God in all of life. And it takes time and focus and prayer and soul-searching. I want to live my life longing for God moment-by-moment. This is becoming an important part of learning to recalibrate life here in 2019.

What about you? What are you longing for? Have you looked deeply at your longings and how the Lord is such an important part of your hearts’ cries? Take some of your longings to Him today. He wants to hear about your deep desires.

 

 

*Note the featured image is a photograph by Paul Varnum on Unsplash.

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18 thoughts on “Learning to Long for God

  1. Wow. God just convicted me this week about having a contentment problem and then this is the first word of your post. I made several notes in my journal to go back and work through. Thank you for allowing God to use you in my life today. I am sharing on twitter. Visiting you from fresh market fri link up. laurensparks.net

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  2. Your question is the best one anyone could ask – How to live a more God-centered life? It’s one I ponder whenever I sit and think. Thank you for your insight. I loved this line: “But the things we want whether it is about money, deeper intimacy in our relationships, feeling more loved, having more or better possessions, or accomplishing certain goals, are all rooted in our hunger for God and His love.”

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. It is a question that I need to remember to ask myself every day. So many choices bombard me, and it is so easy to choose what seems right to me. He is taking us on this journey to know Him more so we might live for His glory and I have so much to learn! I am so thankful that He is so gracious! Blessings to you!

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  3. This is so very right and true. I love your heart for God and that you are taking us on this journey with you this year. I have deep longings, but do not take them to God near enough! That needs to change, especially this year as I am trying to grow my relationship with Him!
    Thank you for a great post!

    Thanks for linking up @LiveLifeWell!

    Blessings,

    Amy

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    1. I struggle with this too! It is something I am learning, a new path God is leading me on. He knows the perfect way to grow our faith in Him and to help us to know Him more. He is faithful when we are not! Blessings to you!

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  4. All this is so true–and I like your mention of a life focused on God being a life of simplicity–we just need to focus on Him and let Hime take care of the rest!

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    1. Absolutely! Trust is most often the issue in the “letting Him take care of the rest.” I seem to focus for a little while, and then try to figure it all out, rather than waiting for Him to work in my heart and my life. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  5. I recently ran into a quote from JI Packer about this. He said that from reading Christian lit, one would think the point of life is any number of things, when truly, our reason for being is to KNOW GOD. We are such distract-able creatures!

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  6. I don’t always seek God in the things I do and I think that’s where I end up doing things wrong. I notice that when I do focus more on Him and his place in my life, things tend to go easier and I am more able to handle the ups and downs of life. Thanks for this brief reflection. Thanks also for sharing it with us at #OMHGWW!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. I know, we all seem to forget to seek the Lord in the busyness of life, you certainly aren’t alone in that. I am trying to remember that He knows my heart better than I know my own. And He can direct my paths best. We just have to keep going back to Him, and that is not always my first thought. But, I am seeing, too, how He does help me when I ask Him for direction. He is such a gracious and loving Father! Blessings!

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  7. I can’t even tell you how much each and every one of your posts in your recalibrate life series this year has spoken directly to my heart! It’s like my own thoughts and longings written by your hand and your wording is probably much better than my own. Lol! I’ve taken all my longings to the Lord over and over. Yet, I’m not sure if I’ve looked at them from the lense of my deep need for the Lord. – “As I took each of my longings and brought them back to my deep need for the Lord, I sought to see Him as the center of my longings. This process helped me to see the path to simplifying my life.” I’m going to try this approach and I hope that it opens me up for God to show me the simple path. Thank you so much for sharing with us at #LiveLifeWell.

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    1. I am so glad that we are on this journey together! The Lord wants our hearts focused on Him. He wants to satisfy our longings, but I have tried to do it on my own all too often. So, this is a new path for me too. It is so beautiful how He helps us know the deeper longings and helps us to see what really matters in life. Praying that He leads you to know the way of simplicity as you look at your longings together! Sweet Blessings to you!

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  8. I’ve been reading Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, and have been specifically challenged in the same areas of contentment and longings as it pertains to spiritual simplicity. He challenges readers to anchor God our sole provider and protector of everything, including our possessions, our livelihood, and our future in order to bring perspective and align our longings and motives. It is a constant and intentional journey.

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    1. I read that book many years ago. It gave me a lot to think about, but it has taken me years to begin to act on those things. Looking to the Lord to satisfy our longings seems to be a constant battle as the things of the world tug at our hearts for attention. Thank you for stopping by and reminding me of yhis book, I will have to pull it off my bookshelf and take another look.

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