I Pray Because…#8: I love and long to be in God’s presence (Ps. 16:11; 1 Jn 5:14)
“The soul must long for God in order to be set aflame by God’s love; but if the soul cannot yet feel the longing, then it must long for the longing. To long for the longing is also from God.”
I’m what you would call a “fair weather” kind of guy. So, growing up in the North was not necessarily always my idea of a good time. After living in that climate for so many years, you would think that I would get used to the cold temperature changes and the changes of the seasons, but let me tell you, that’s one of a host of major reasons why I “defected” to the South. And if I’m perfectly honest, some of the winter months in Tennessee are even too cold for me as well.
When I was a little kid, all of my friends seemed to have the greatest time in the world putting on their snow gear and playing out in the six-foot snow drifts in temperatures that would freeze your “royal Rastafarian neineis’” off! I, on the other hand, would stand in one place like the little kid from A Christmas Story, all bundled up asking, “Can we go inside now?!?!” every five minutes. Man did I hate the cold…still do! Oh, how I longed to be inside by a hot fireplace sipping hot chocolate watching Home Alone! The best feeling in the world to me was always that first few seconds when I would come in from the freezing cold into a warm house. The warm air would hit my cheeks and, in that moment, everything was right in my little world.
This is a small and sort of amusing example of what it means to long and love something. But what if I told you this was a microcosm of the longing I have for God’s presence in my life. My relationship with the Lord is the single greatest and most important relationship I have on this earth. And even though at times I don’t act like it, because I don’t spend near enough time in the Scriptures and in prayer, I still have that ache deep in my soul for something more. That longing, deep within me, serves as my best ally in a world that has, at times, felt dark and lonely.
You see, in my life I have not been unacquainted with melancholy, grief, and pain. And yet the most unbelievable thing happens when life seems to not make sense, as I make feeble attempts to control circumstances and events in my life. I falter every time I try to take over and control the outcome of my situation, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. And this seems to draw me further and further into despair and away from a Heavenly Father who loves me and longs to be with ME! In these moments, the only explanation I can give is that the Holy Spirit enlivens my spirit to yearn for God’s presence. He draws me back in to fellowship with Himself because He knows exactly what I need…more of Himself.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for not leaving us alone to feebly attempt to control difficult life circumstances. We ask now that You help us long for Your presence more and more with each [passing day! In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, Amen!
Clayton J. Elliott
Director of Pastoral Ministries and Prayer, KMUSA