Longing is a strong feeling of need and desire for someone or something. Days may feel elongated if you are longing to see someone you love, especially if that person is distant. You may recall a movie or TV show where a person goes to meet someone they love. The scene commonly unfolds with a man or a woman waiting at a restaurant for the other person. The absent person might be a spouse for a date night, a parent for a discussion, a sibling after a long absence or a friend not seen for a lengthy period.
The story often begins as the person is escorted to a table and seated. After a few minutes, the server asks if the person would like something to drink while they wait for the arrival of their dining partner. At first, the person declines, stating the other member of the dinner party is expected to arrive any minute. After a while, the person accepts the offer for something to drink. The movie or TV show joins some other storyline for a few minutes and then reverts to the scene at the restaurant. Upon the viewers’ return to the table at the restaurant, the waiting member of the dinner party has often fallen asleep. If not sleeping, they may have arrived at the depressing fact the other party member is not coming. Finally, someone asks them to leave as the hour has come for the restaurant to close for the evening. The range of emotions is wide-ranging. Longing is primarily a blending of love or happiness and sadness or depression, but different kinds of longing can also involve many emotions.
What if we are the person who does not show up for dinner? What if the person waiting is Jesus?
The Bible has numerous examples of God seeking us, longing for us and continuously pursuing after us. One such example is Psalms 94:14, “Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him.” The Hebrew word, hesed best defines God’s longing for us. Hesed is hard to describe in English. Often, we see it translated as steadfast. The best definition requires more than a single English word. Hesed is the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of Yahweh for His people.
However, instead of God being upset when we do not show up, His longing for us turns into loving us even more (Luke 15:11-32). God pursues us and His entire creation so vigorously that He sent His Son to heal our relationship with Him (John 3:16-17). By the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, we are promised the reward Jesus receives from the Father. By Jesus healing our relationship with God, we now long for the day when God returns to dwell and live with us, and all things are made new.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist anymore—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” Revelation 21:3-4.
It seems the tables have turned. Thanks to Christ Jesus, Christians should be longing for His return. What might be our actions? It seems it is time to stop praying for God to bless our direction, our distractions and our coping mechanisms. We do not want repair of our broken world and blessings for us to continue our path as creation is crying around us for the redemption of all things (Romans 8). May we all stop praying for temporary repairs in this broken existence enduring without our loved ones that have died and without our resurrected bodies. May we long for and pray that tomorrow will be the day everyone bursts through from their graves, and New Creation fully arrives. “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
Stan Wilson is a Nashville native. He is married to Cheryl and now calls her family’s retired farm in Mt. Juliet home. Stan and Cheryl met at David Lipscomb High School, and they married in 1992 at Harpeth Hills Church of Christ. Stan returned to Hazelip’s School of Theology at Lipscomb in 2016. He completed his Masters of Divinity in the Spring of 2019.