I'm sure that, at some time, we have all had a longing deep within. It might have been to visit some far away exotic land or to do something that seems way beyond reach. It could be that you wanted to be famous (or even noticed). There are many who long to be able to do, or to say, or to be something that still remains unsatisfied. Perhaps it's a longing for better health. For some it will be for greater wealth for others even enough wealth with which to be comfortable. It could even be an unfulfilled longing to be for God or to achieve for God that which seemed to have been placed on our hearts by God.
All of these longings and more besides are common to many of us if we stop for a moment and think about it. I grant you it will be much more relevant for some than others. The point is that there is no harm in longing or dreaming for whatever it may be as long as it does not take our focus from the purpose for which we exist which is to live a Spirit filled life that shows the reality of Jesus and brings honour to His name.
Here's the question, " How do you deal with those unfulfilled longings?" It's fair to say that some may be all about self. They are the ones that will do us no good and will do nothing for the furtherance of God's will for your life. But not all longings are like that. There are, I believe, some longings that are placed in your heart by God. All of us, hopefully, will learn how to cope with the unfulfilled longings that are not from God. But, what about those that you truly believe have been placed deep within, by God, but as yet there are no signs that they will become a reality? How do we cope with them?
That set me thinking. King David was a man caught up in such a scenario. He had a longing. He wanted to build a house for the Lord his God in which He could dwell (2Samuel 7:1-17) It was something that gained approval from another, Nathan, so David was convinced that this was the next stage of his ministry to the God that he loved and served. But, in the narrative, we find that they had both got it wrong. Though King David, at this point in his life, was riding on the crest of a wave the lesson for him was that good ideas are not always God ideas.
Right now he was King of Israel. He had captured Jerusalem and brought the Ark of God back in to the city. That was fine. God was happy with that. But now David had this deep longing in his heart to build a house in which God could dwell. To all intents and purposes it was 'good to go' but it was not the right time and he was not the right man according to the will of God. It remained unfulfilled because it was good but not right. It was commendable but not admissible.
The truth is that any longing that God instigates in your thinking and in your heart will be fulfilled. I remember reading somewhere that Alexander the Great wept when there were no more worlds for him to conquer. Perhaps King David was a little bit like that. He obviously wanted to do the right thing for God because God acknowledged that he was a man after God's own heart. He really wanted to build that house. It was a deep longing within him but it was not going to happen through him.
It must have been hard for him but, because of his love for God and his trust in Him, he came to terms with it.we know that because, when Solomon was granted permission to do that which David longed to do, he gave him his whole-hearted support. His longing was to be fulfilled through someone else. That was a great opportunity for him to 'throw his dummy out of the pram' and take his bat home (I know these are not Biblical sayings but they seemed appropriate) but he didn't. The temple that he wanted to build, that was built by Solomon, was in time destroyed, built again and destroyed again. So what David longed for did not last long in terms of eternity. But what God was doing in his life was to begin to build an eternal kingdom (verse 16)
How are we to cope with unfulfilled longings? The first step is to learn how to discern between those which are from God and those that are of self and humbly and willingly accept the will of the Lord our God. After all He knows best!! David accepted the accompanying disappointment of his longing being unfulfilled. He knew that God knew better than he did. He humbled himself before God and allowed God to have His way in his life. It was after that, as he looked back over his life that from that point on God granted him success. The secret is: give in and give up to God. Let Him do the sifting. Now there's a thought.
Psalm 42:1 as a deer pants for the water so my soul longs for You O God. My soul thirsts for the living God
Psalm 84:2 my soul longs, yea faints for the courts of God; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
I've been thinking a lot, recently, about the choices with which we are faced each and every day. It seems to me that, as followers of the Lord Jesus, we are constantly faced with choices that are important as we live in a greatly changing world. Values have changed, morals have changed and society itself has changed. In the midst of all of that we have a leader who does not change. That fact does not make Him old fashioned but it does mean, for His followers, that His leadership, example and values are as relevant today as when He walked this Earth.
Some years ago we were on holiday and had gone to a local church where the pastor, whilst preaching on the subject of God's timing, mentioned that he and his wife were often 'last minute' people because his wife could never make her mind up what to wear and that often involved her trying on one outfit and then changing it at the last minute. It often took her a long time to choose what to wear. it had to be right for the right occasion.
He used a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. He said, in his view, that she had 'two wardrobes full of nothing to wear.' I think he realised, having said that in public, he may have been skating on thin ice because he ended the story with the remark that she always looked nice whatever she wore and her choice, that morning, was particularly nice. On the other hand of course he could just have been a very wise man.
Perhaps, to some extent, we are all a little bit like that. We, generally, want to look good don't we? Come on, be honest, how many of us take something out of the wardrobe and then put it back because it's not quite right or another outfit would look that much better or appropriate. Of course that will be the ladies not the men (oops perhaps I should have left that out.....too late) We may not have two wardrobes full of clothes from which can choose the right outfit but many of us will take time to know what to wear for which occasion.
That set me thinking. The Bible is quite clear on what we should wear. Granted, it's not exactly what clothes we should wear or a dress code for church attendance. It's something much more important than the issue of wearing the right clothes for the right occasion. It's all to do with the issue, a gar more important issue, of what does and what does not please God.
The Bible is quite straightforward in what we should wear in terms of what we should take off and what we should put on. One of my favourite expressions in the
Bible (in the older versions) is that the Holy Spirit put on Gideon. That's powerful. Anyway, we are clearly told, for example, that we need to put off (take off) the old self and that we should put on the new self. It even describes for us the detail of the old and describes for us the new. That's to be found in Colossians chapter three and verses five to seventeen. There's another list in Ephesians chapter four and verses twenty two to thirty two.
If we really do want to dress in a way that pleases God we will do what we are told to do. We are to put off (take off) the old nature and to put on the new nature. The new nature, often referred to as the new self, represents the 'clothes' that God has provided and in which He loves to see us. Such outfits are pleasing to Him. The old nature or the old self represents the 'clothes' that God does not like to see us wear simply because they are not pleasing to His eyes
When we make our choice of what to wear (we are back in the everyday world of the clothes we wear to go out) we we take the clothes we are not going to wear and hang them back up in the wardrobe and then take another outfit from the wardrobe and put that on. Concerning the things (back to the spiritual realm) that the Bible tells us to put off (take off) it's time well spent if we take a look at the two scripture passages above to see if we can recognise anything that we keep putting on that's not pleasing to God. If there's anything that we do recognise it's a good idea (even a God idea) to make a conscious decision to throw them away rather than hang them back up again to be worn at some other time.
That way, in due time, we will be faced with less of a choice of what to wear and, hopefully, what's left will be the things that the Bible tells us we are to put on and are pleasing to God. Now these a thought.
Ephesians 4:22-24 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of your minds and put on the new nature created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
One of the early words spoken to me from God was in Psalm 32. 'Be not like a horse or a mule without understanding which must be curbed with bit and bridle' Well, on this particular occasion, it was not so much that I felt like a horse or a mule; it was more that I felt like a dinosaur!!! All I had gone to the supermarket for was some bread. I know it sounds so simple (that's why I am relating to the dinosaur) and I know it should have been simple but, as I stood and looked at all the many shelves full of different types of bread, it did not seem so simple at all.
There was sliced and unsliced bread. There was brown white or best of both; thin, medium, thick or even extra thick. I could have bread with crust or without crust. I saw seeded bread, unseeded, single seed or multi-seeded. Oh no, there was more still to come; granary, wholemeal, roughage and high roughage. I could have either wrapped or unwrapped plus the choice of about four different bakeries.
All I had come for was some bread. The question was, "which one had I come for?" I began to wonder why I had not paid more attention to what type of bread we usually bought. As hard as I tried I could not think of what our usual bread looked like in the bread basket. It would have been much more straightforward and far less overwhelming if I could have.
That set me thinking. Each day we are faced with choices that we have to make. From the rising of the sun to it's going down we are faced with situations, decisions and choices. The world in which we live offers such a wide variety of alternatives of products intended to satisfy our deepest needs, philosophies that intend to satisfy our deepest desires and programmes that are designed to ensure our wellbeing and health. On the surface such things are attractive and could well be helpful but which, if any, are the right choice?
The Bible makes it quite clear that, as the people of God, choices are important to us on a different level. In fact, in Deuteronomy 30:15-20 we are faced with choices that are categorised as either 'life and good or death and bad'
Such choices are, obviously, in a different league to which bread should I buy. They are choices that affect our journey of life as we live, as we were called, by faith. For example we live in a world that is constantly changing in many ways. In the realm of morality we have seen great change. The choice we face is whether to go with the changing world or to stay with the unchanging Christ who is the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith. You might say that the right choice is simple (and it is) but, for some, the attraction may be very strong.
Life would be much more simple if God made all the choices for us. But He doesn't. He gives the guidance but we are to make the choice. That makes the issue of making the right choices very important (read Isaiah 7:15). So, how do we make the right choices that will helpus to live our lives that please our Heavenly Father?
There are five steps revealed in scripture that are helpful. First, the word of God is a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our path (Psalm 119:105). Second, the Holy Spirit is our personal guide whose responsibility it is to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Third, we need to respond and obey (especially when the choice revealed to us in not the choice we would have made). Fourth, we are to ask, in prayer, for the promised spirit of wisdom and revelation to affirm the choice (Ephesians 1:16-19). Fifth, we have faith to know that the issue of making the right choices carries with it the promised reward of life, length of days, fulfilment and satisfaction.
What form do such choices take for the people of God? There is the choice between good and evil or life and death. There is the choice between God and idols (Joshua 24: 15-28). There is the choice between obedience and disobedience (1Samuel 15:1-35) and the choice between wisdom and folly (Proverbs 8:1-21). Don't be fooled or taken in by the seemingly attractiveness of what the world offers but listen to the voice within that says,"This is the way. Walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21). The promises of God are Yea and Amen. They are eternal promises. Even today, if we are tempted to turn to the right or to the left we will hear that same voice. If we hear it and heed it then the issue of the right choice will become far less complicated and much more straightforward. Now there's a thought.
Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt for he looked to the reward