The Longing in Me Week 6 – Longing for God Alone

jesus-has-proven-himself

It’s here! Our final week of The Longing in Me study. I don’t know about you, but for me this study has been life-changing as we’ve looked at the life of King David and our misguided longings – those longings that, when not pointed toward God, cause trials, suffering, damaged and dulled relationships with God, and so much heartbreak.

I’m so thankful to Sheila for sharing her deeply personal stories about her broken marriage, bankruptcy, and the other struggles and shipwrecks that she endured when she tried to fill her longings with anything or any person besides Jesus. She has come alongside us as an authentic friend, hasn’t she?

Finally, we are studying in Sessions Six or ‘Longing for God Alone’. This week for the study we will:

1. Watch the video for Week 6 – either on DVD or via streaming video on Study Gateway. Don’t forget that this is your week to watch the last session, then the week of 5/22-5/29 we will make all of the videos available to you again for one more week in case you missed any of the previous videos. It’s called a catch-up week!

2. Answer the group discussion questions. Go through the discussion questions for Session 6 in The Longing in Me Study Guide (pages 107-116). These are the same questions that we’ll tackle in our Thursday online chats — at 2 p.m. EST and 9 p.m. EST each week. Join us for our final chat for this study this Thursday!

3. For your personal study, answer the questions and reflect upon Sheila’s notes in The Longing in Me Study Guide (pages 117-121).

4. Recommended (but optional) reading for this week: Read chapter 10, “The Longing for God Alone,” in The Longing in Me – the hardcover, not study guide.

Watch the Video for Week 6: Longing for God Alone

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We long for God

Maybe it was there when I was young, but I don’t recall feeling it until I was in my 20’s — the inner, empty ache and loneliness. Maybe you can relate. I don’t know how it crept into my consciousness, nor how it became a thing I felt was wrong and somehow shameful, but it did. As a bubbly, happy, fun-loving, people-person who had little to complain about, I didn’t recognize that alien, forlorn, painful hunger and I didn’t know what to do with it or how to make it stop. It was like a cat that wouldn’t stop meowing at my feet. I was a “good” kid. What was the angsty, gnawing pain inside all about?

In this study Sheila gave it a beautiful, poignant name — “sacred ache”. It’s a suffering that cannot be mended or quenched except by God alone. We can’t help it. It’s a need we cannot successfully ignore, an itch we cannot scratch with anything or anyone other than Him.

Even if we do not recognize it as such, the truth is that deep inside we all long for God. In good times and in bad. In affluence and in poverty. In power and in disenfranchisement. In sickness and in health. It’s there if we attend church, serve the poor, tithe, and otherwise stick like glue to Jesus. And, it’s there even if we feel far from Him. Even if we doubt. Even if we outright push God away and try to be happy on our own terms.

As David experienced, and Sheila did, and we all do, when we stay in close relationship with the Lord, we cause a lot less trouble with our longings pointed towards God. But, things get complicated when we go through brutal trials and deep disappointments. We may wonder if God doesn’t love us or won’t come through for us. We may question His goodness, His trustworthiness, and whether or not life under His rule is “safe”. We may reexamine our relationship with Him and ask questions as we talked about in week 1 such as:

Am I lovable?

Does God see me?

Do my needs matter to Him?

Is it okay to be me?

Will I be loved if I make a mistake?

Am I even worthy of love?

Those honest questions are scary to ask! What do we do when we’re there in that broken, despondent place full of longings going unfulfilled, or questions that remain unanswered for a season?

What do you do when the road ahead is a long one? How do we bring glory to God in a tough place? How do we look to Him alone as our source of strength? We worship! Even when there’s no light on the path or dawn on the horizon, we worship God because He is worth it! He is worth the devotion! — Sheila Walsh

I don’t want my story sometimes. Have you ever felt like that? Mine is full of failure (in marriage, parenting, friendships, as a follower of Jesus, and on and on). As well as joy, hope, miracles, and God’s faithfulness, my story is also full of my own selfishness, sin, embarrassment, shame, and a lot of grief. It’s in my messy, beautiful, painful story, though, that Jesus’ love for me is the most powerful, the most incomprehensible, the most gorgeous. It’s in looking at my story through the filter of His love and protection that I cannot help but worship Him!

I lay down and slept yet I woke up in safety for the Lord was watching over me. — Psalm 3:5

So, I’m learning to welcome that sacred ache… because it’s an ache from God… for God. What a precious pain that it leads us back to where we can experience shalom, learn to walk with Him in our faith journeys, and grow to be a woman or man “after God’s own heart”.

Prayer

God, thank You that You love us. Thank You that You want to be seen, and sought, and expected, and trusted. We want the questions of our hearts that are unanswered, the longings unfulfilled, and that sacred ache within us to draw us to You so we can know you more and become more like You! We want to be radicalized by the Cross, Your unfathomable rescue of us. Help us to receive Your love and help us to love You even more! Amen!

A Song

In case you’re curious as I was about the song Sheila spoke about on the video that her dad used to sing, enjoy these powerful lyrics.

There were ninety and nine that safely lay

In the shelter of the fold.

But one was out on the hills away,

Far off from the gates of gold.

Away on the mountains wild and bare.

Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;

Are they not enough for Thee?

But the Shepherd made answer: This of Mine

Has wandered away from Me;

And although the road be rough and steep,

I go to the desert to find My sheep,

I go to the desert to find My sheep.

But none of the ransomed ever knew

How deep were the waters crossed;

Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through

Ere He found His sheep that was lost.

Out in the desert He heard its cry,

Sick and helpless and ready to die;

Sick and helpless and ready to die.

Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way

That mark out the mountain’s track

They were shed for one who had gone astray

Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.

Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?

They are pierced tonight by many a thorn;

They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.

And all through the mountains, thunder riven

And up from the rocky steep,

There arose a glad cry to the gate of Heaven,

Rejoice! I have found My sheep!

And the angels echoed around the throne,

Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!

Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!

Your Turn

What have your learned most about your longings from this session? If it’s true that we search for God with all our longings, what insights do your longings provide about what you most need and long for from God?

Laurie McClure

Laurie is a Jesus apprentice, a single mama of five (three homegrown, one Kentuckian, and one Ethiopian), a writer, beach lover, and is addicted to radical grace, Perrier, and yoga pants. Here at FaithGateway she is the editor, the leader of Faith.Full, our women's community, and curator of Devotionals Daily.

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