Does “longing” for God sometimes seem like an unclear, ethereal, out-there-and-not-accessible kind of spiritual exercise? This morning as I opened the refrigerator and saw the chocolate covered donuts my wonderful husband had bought sitting pretty on the shelf (he who never buys donuts even though he was a policeman!), I felt “longing!” Oh, I could just feel my teeth biting into that soft and delicious donut. It just wasn’t fair. And as I tried to turn my longing into attention to God, I really wanted the donut!!!!!
A while later I was reading in Soul Physicians, A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction by Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., (www.rpmministries.org) and he articulated five ways to long for God (pgs. 167-169). Now this was something I could get my teeth into! (But I’d still rather it was the donut!) His five points are:
1. Enjoy our Father
2. Entrust ourselves to Him
3. Engage in His good purposes
4. Emulate/reflect our Father
5. Exalt our Father
I’m going to explore each of those in future posts. Today, we’ll talk about enjoying God.
1. Enjoy our Father. Dr. Kellemen writes, “Enjoying God is biblical, historical, and wonderful.” Enjoying something or someone means we find satisfaction in them. They will satisfy what we are wanting and feeling empty about. Psalm 143:6 tells us, “I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.” When we’re feeling like a parched land in our soul and spirit, being in God’s presence satisfies and fills us; and we enjoy Him. He delights in us and we delight in Him. We look to Him to be what we need–that is longing for Him, knowing He will meet with us. Dr. Kellemen quotes Jonathan Edwards, “The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.” (Edwards, “The Christian Pilgrim,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, p. 2). No wonder Jesus said that He had food–spiritual food–which sustained Him more than physical food.
The time that stands out in my mind of longing for God and enjoying His presence the most happened at the end of a conference many years ago. I had given a workshop and in the final session with the main speaker, God’s presence was so real to me that I literally felt like I was cocooned in a bubble of love. I didn’t even go to the final lunch because I felt so full and satisfied and didn’t want anything to spoil the moment. I drove all the home–7 hours!–absolutely wrapped in that cocoon of His presence. I enjoyed Him, longed for Him, and felt His incredible love. I don’t think I’ve ever so incredibly sensed God’s presence since then–to that degree.
Daily life can be filled with mini-“cocoons of longing for God” as we seek Him through Bible study, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines. For me, singing God’s praises draws my heart into enjoying Him. And don’t tell anyone–it’s just our little secret–but I love to dance around the house singing praises to God. There’s such freedom and enjoyment of God in that. (Don’t worry; no one else is home when I do it!)
How do you long for God by enjoying Him? I’d love to hear your ideas.
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Next time, we’ll talk about Dr. Kellemen’s second idea for longing for God: “Entrust ourselves to God.”