What Your Longings Can Teach You About God and Yourself
- Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Barry Morrow's book, Yearning For More: What Our Longings Tell Us About God and Ourselves (IVP Books, 2012).
No matter how hard you seek fulfillment in all this world has to offer, you can often become disenchanted with life and struggle with longings for something more.
If your yearning for more than this world can give you has left you frustrated and disappointed, you can find hope if you look at your longings from God’s perspective. God designed the longings you experience in this world not to completely satisfy you, but to point you toward another world – heaven – in which your yearning will finally give way to complete fulfillment. Each of your longings is a sign of transcendence embedded in your earthly life.
Here’s how you can learn what your longings teach you about God and yourself:
Recognize the limits of what this fallen world offers you. Since sin first corrupted the perfect world God created, worldly things – from a new job or romantic partnership to a bigger house or better car – promise to meet your desires, yet fall short of delivering the ultimate satisfaction that you seek. Admit the reality that nothing you want can truly satisfy you except one thing: a relationship with God. Stop trying to find meaning and significance in the world’s wisdom, pleasure, power, riches, altruism, or naturalistic religion. Shift your focus to what matters most: seeking God alone.
Look beyond what’s urgent to what’s important. Don’t get stuck in your everyday, mundane concerns – if you do, you won’t notice the signs of transcendence that God has placed all around you. Make a daily habit of withdrawing from the busyness of dealing with life’s urgent activities to spend time in reflection and prayer, asking questions about the important issues you encounter in the situations you experience.
Develop a sacramental perspective on life. From God’s perspective, there’s no distinction between what’s sacred and what’s secular. Everything in life is sacred to God. When you look at life this way, you can notice how everything you do is imbued with a spiritual meaning. Doing your activities with an attitude of faithfulness to God turns them into sacraments – signs of God at work in your life.
Discover how your fear of death points to transcendence. The idea of death naturally scares people because God’s original design for us didn’t include death – death entered the world only after sin did. The fact that you feel afraid of dying is a sign that points to the reality that you’re actually an immortal being who’s trapped inside a mortal body right now. One day, when you die, your soul will break free of your body and live forever in the afterlife, either in heaven with God, or separated from Him in hell – depending on whether or not you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Discover how your uneasiness with time points to transcendence. Time passes so quickly that it’s natural to want to slow it down, but you can’t. Your frustration with not having enough time to do all you’d like to do highlights the fact that your time is limited on Earth, and points to the reality that every moment you have is a gift from God that you should do your best to use well.
Discover how your sense of humor points to transcendence. The incongruence and absurdity of life that seems so funny points to the reality that you live as a fallen creature in a fallen world. When you don’t take yourself too seriously, you can see your need for a Savior to redeem your life.
Discover how civility and manners point to transcendence. The urge you feel in your conscience to treat people with dignity and respect is a sign of people’s eternal value, because God has made them in His image.
Discover how your family life points to transcendence. The daily rhythms of your ordinary life with your family at home help you learn eternal values that shape your soul, such as: compassion, understanding, respect, unselfishness, loyalty, and joy. These values all help you become a person who knows how to love more like Jesus Christ. So your family life is about much more than mere function; it points to God’s redeeming work going on in your soul.
Discover how your work points to transcendence. You can truly enjoy your work only when you work for more than just money, power, or prestige; you need to experience a sense of meaning and purpose in your work. Your drive to seek significance (not just success) points to the fact that God has individual vocations to which He calls different people to meet the world’s needs in ways that they’ll do well and enjoy. Also, since your work has eternal value, you regularly sense an urge in your conscience to give your best effort to produce work of excellent quality.
Discover how sports and leisure points to transcendence. The time you spent at leisure enjoying sports helps you relax and enjoy life. As you do, you can reflect on the meaning of your experiences and celebrate your blessings, and that points you to the reality that God is at work beneath the surface of your life. The respite from life’s stresses that you enjoy during your leisure time expresses the universal human desire to escape this fallen world for a paradise of some kind, and that desire points to your innate desire to make it to heaven someday.
Discover how the arts point to transcendence. The arts (such as movies, plays, literature, visual art, and music) can move you deeply because the best arts productions resonate with something God has placed within your soul. When that happens, the arts inspire you to respond with wonder, awe, and worship that all point to the reality of a spiritual realm.
Discover how your pain points to transcendence. The pain you experience in life leads to suffering that reminds you that you live in a fallen world but were made for a perfect one. You naturally long for help in the midst of your pain, and only God can truly give you the help you need.
Discover how your pleasures point to transcendence. No matter how much pleasure you can eke out of life in this fallen world, you’ll eventually end up disenchanted with it because it won’t ultimately satisfy you. But your longing for ultimate fulfillment leads you to seek God, who alone is able to give you all you seek.
Adapted from Yearning for More: What Our Longings Tell Us About God and Ourselves, copyright 2012 by Barry Morrow. Published by IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.
Barry Morrow brings more than 25 years of experience working in the marketplace with businessmen through teaching, speaking, and consulting, primarily through his organization, FinishingWell.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: February 20, 2013
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