A lover longs for the touch of his or her beloved. A faithful retainer longs for the return of his or her Lord. The believer longs for time in the presence of the Divine. A follower of the Christ longs for the community and communion of the Church as His Body.
Even as we long for food after a fast, for sleep after a long, hard day of work, or for a cool drink when we are parched, we feel longing in our souls for physical comfort and with our bodies for the consolation of our souls. Why then do we here in the West insist on separating our bodies from our minds? How do we manage to continually bifurcate our sense of being whole, either in desire or in satiation?
I think the answer is simple.
We fear being lost in ourselves. Worse, we fear being lost in another. We fear a loss of autonomy, and confuse that self-governance with some ideal of personal control over our destiny. At the very worst? We fear not only being swept up into the "now" over which we lack control; we fear being swept away. Confidence that we won't be swept away is a tough thing to find, as well as the trust in each other and in God to be there just in case we do lose our footing.
Paul notes it in the nature of the Thessalonian church. They are present to God in Christ, present to each other and continue to demonstrate that not only in their local work but also in their continuing connection to, and support of, Paul's mission. Our passionate couple in the Song of Songs express longing for, and confidence in each other--even when they cannot find each other, the physical and emotional memory of their connection is enough to draw others into their quest for physical reunion.
Perhaps the highest point of giving over to God that confidence to be there for us, even when life sweeps us away? Psalm 24. ALL our confidence is invested in God's advental arrival. ALL our hope is entrusted to the One who is the creator and lord of all things. Resting in that confidence doesn't mean we are safe, but it does mean that we are complete. That completion then feeds our ability to deal with whatever lies in wait for us, just out of sight and around the curve in the road of life's path. Our challenge for today? To get comfort from the discomfort of longing...