My heart has been thirsty lately–and when I say, “thirsty”, I mean parched. I’ve been distressingly pained with a desperate longing; anticipation of a fullness– or a completeness– I know exists because I’ve experienced its sense of peace and belonging –and often euphoric effects sporadically throughout my entire life.
We’ve all experienced this inconsolable thirst. When it isn’t stifling us, it drives us. It drives us to pursue external things or experiences that represent life to us or distinguishes our carefully constructed identity–material things, career ambitions, skills we possess as well as how we look, sound, and attract others to us. We try to fill the longing in our hearts with external platitudes—the part of us that everyone sees—and though they have their place in importance, they cannot, cannot fulfill the deepest yearnings of our hearts.
We cannot solve an internal issue externally and yet we try over and over again. When one thing doesn’t fulfill or sustain, we try something else.
In a world where performance and efficiency are everything, it is easy for many of us to stuff away these heart desires and focus on what we know to do, what the world tells us to do, and what has proven to gain some satiation. We’re good at replacing our internal needs with external things, like principles and programs; like work and church activities; like organizing and planning.
“Busyness replaces meaningfulness. Efficiency replaces creativity. Functional relationships replace love” (Brent Curtis).
We live from what we “ought to do”, rather than from what and how we desire to do it. I believe we are all born with this thirst, this longing, this internal quest for adventure, intimacy, and beauty that, when pursued, lead us to discovering meaning and fullness in our lives.
Perhaps, we think what our heart longs for (even if we cannot pinpoint what it is) is unattainable–and we just have to live with unsettled feelings. Perhaps, we’ve come to believe this longing is some disorder, or we’re asking too much from life; or we’re dreamers, so we ignore the gentle ever-present whisper beckoning us, calling us to so much more than all of this, to so much more than external joys and pains and everything in between. Those who stuff, ignore, or discount these desires eventually lose heart–which in my opinion, is both a coping mechanism as well as the greatest loss of their lives.
No matter how you describe this thirst, it is the most important thing about us.
It’s important because the longing–the ever-present pull of our heart-strings toward something more is in actuality the voice of Christ—because it is “in the heart that we first come to know and learn to live in His love”. The heart–though many may discount its place or its role in our day-to-day activities, is crucial. It is here, in Christ– found in the deepest longings of our heart– that we find fulfillment.
Our exterior actions for Christ begin in the heart.
“The heart is the wellspring of life” and its fount overflows with our faith, hope, and love (Proverbs 4:23). It is where we resolve to live sacrificially, to be a servant, to love in action and not merely in words alone, to be present. I cannot help but to think of Isaiah 29:13, where God laments, “These people…. they honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”. This verse alone tells me that our hearts are important to Christ. It is where we—our identity—begins. (Side note: I have spent a fair share of my life paying lip-service to Christ, rather than living completely sold out for Him. I have also spent a good share of my life looking for Him in the external).
I’m not sure how I didn’t stuff the longings of my heart during those years of external searching; during those years of utter shame and brokenness. I suppose somehow I knew (or learned) the longing I had always felt was in actuality Christ whispering my name, calling me Daughter, Beloved, Forgiven. I remember as if it was yesterday, and not 23 years ago, the afternoon I literally fell on my knees and begged the Lord to allow me a sip of His life-giving water. He surpassed what I deserved, what I desired. He filled my cup, and once it was full, He kept pouring. It spilled over the edges, soaking the ground, saturating my soul. As my buried my face in my hands, sobbing, “thank you, thank you, thank you”, I realized He was the desire of my heart!
So struggling this week, really struggling, with this unquenchable thirst, my initial reaction was to call my friend, go for a run, read, garden, open my hives (I’m an amateur beekeeper–so thrilling I can hardly tell you) in hopes to lull this unnerving thirst–and admittedly, I did do some of these things (OK, all of those things!)–but it donned on me (I’m so slow sometimes), while on my knees in my garden that I was going about it all wrong. I wasn’t going to the source of my joy, my life, my love. I was trying to find joy and contentment (the desires of my heart) without Him.
Why do I do this? Why do I fall away from Him? I resonate with Paul, who cried out “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate to do” (Romans 7:15) I am so prone to wander, it’s ridiculous.
Here’s the thing–that thirst—that constant pull on our heart-strings, that beckoning whisper that reminds us that there is more to this life—that’s God calling us back to Him, reminding us Whose we are and who we are in Him. I have a lot of favorite verses, but today, my favorite is Hebrews 13:5, which reminds us that He “will never leave us or forsake us”. I am grateful for the thirsty times as well as the moments of utter saturation for God is in both.