Your Longings Fulfilled

I really like attention. I love a crowd listening to the words I have to say. I love when people pay attention to me, and I love it even more when they tell me I’m smart. I love when I have an opportunity to teach and my “ah ha” moment visually grabs the audience. I love when the words I write make an impact on people. In short order I love the applause. I love the fame that being an author and teacher have to offer.

That is definitely a part of why I want to be a teaching pastor and an author. I crave it, I desire it, I love it.

This leaves me pondering a question quite often though. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t stop and ask myself this question.

Why do I want to teach?

Perhaps you ask yourself this question. Maybe it looks a little different.

Why am I going to college?

Why am I a mom?

Why am I a mechanic?

Why do I play this sport?

Why am I a nurse?

You don’t have to be in full time ministry to stop and ask yourself why. You don’t have to be in full time ministry to be a full time minster. Somehow we all stop to ask ourselves why. For some reason no matter who you are, or what you have done, the why question always pops up.

Why is this? Why are we so driven by the “whys of life?”

I believe it’s because, the why, behind the what, is essential.

Our answer to the “why question” reveals our motivation. Motivation is the reason we do things. We are motivated to do something, so we do it. Our motivations carry us through life. Whatever they may be, they decide where we go to college, they decide what we study, what job we take, who we marry and what we do with our free time. Our motivations are the driving force behind life.

What if I told you, your motivation matters more than what you do?

What if I told you, your motivation makes you who you are?

I use the word motivation because we all know what it means. We all understand what it is to be motivated, some more than others. But now I want to throw a curveball at you. Now I want to divide motivation into two different words.

Longings and desires.

In the first chapter of the book of John we are introduced to John the Baptist.

“Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.”

John 1:19-23

John the Baptist was kinda like that crazy guy on the street yelling “Repent! The end is near” Now to be honest, I have never actually seen that crazy guy in person, but I have watched movies so I know he is out there somewhere. If you know where he is let me know, I’d love to meet him.

But this hypothetical crazy guy on the street and John the Baptist do have a lot in common. They both are probably smelly, both have long hair and a beard, and eat a very strange diet. This was John the Baptist. He lived in the dessert, didn’t cut his hair, and ate locusts and honey. That’s definitely crazy guy stuff. But John gathered quite a following. A lot of people were very interested in what John had to say. So they gathered up and listened. Eventually the crowds got big enough that the Pharisees decided they had better check this guy out and see what all the fuss was about. So they did and that is where we see this passage take place. John is answering the questions of the Pharisees.

John is out in the dessert preparing people for Jesus to arrive. He finishes this conversation with the Pharisees with these words,

“Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” John 1:24-27

John makes his purpose clear, preparation. John has a calling to prepare the way for Jesus. So that’s what he does.

Now soon after this Jesus reveals himself and John starts pointing people towards Jesus. This leads the crowds that were listening and watching John every day to leave and follow Jesus.  So John is losing his followers to Jesus. All the days spent in front of the crowds are coming to an end and John’s time of preparation has ended.

As we look at motivation, I mentioned earlier that I want to split this word into two different words, longings and desires.

Longings are feelings we have when we are in a still, quiet place. Longings become clear when life slows down and we have those beautiful moments alone in a calm place. We all have longings. As Christians our ultimate longing is to be united with Jesus. There are many other longings that we have, many of which are unique or at least the combination of longings we have are unique. There is a substantial difference between longings and desires.

You say, “I have a longing to get married”

That’s not true. You have a desire to be married due to your much deeper longing to be known and loved.

You say, “I have a longing to be a professional athlete”

Again not true. You have a desire to be a professional athlete due to your longing to have security and be accepted or admired.

Our longings are what makes us who we are, our longings are what ties us to eternity. Our longings can only be fulfilled by Jesus.

Too many times I hear longings be addressed as some type of sinful lack of satisfaction. Longings are given to us by God, they are not sinful, our longings are the very fabric of who we are and the piece of us Jesus desires the most.  The way in which we try and satisfy our longings is best described as our desires.

Desires can be sinful and may lead to our own destruction. We take these longings that are immense and deeper than what most of us ever realize and try and pair them with the desires of this world. Yet we find ourselves lost, confused, and feeling empty.

It is essential we investigate our longings and pair them with the desires based on the truth of scripture.

As the crowds go to be with Jesus, people begin to point the obvious out to John. They say, “Look all your people are going to be with Jesus! How does that make you feel?” This seems like a very juvenile attack on John. I can picture this type of insult being said by children on a playground. John’s response however is not juvenile.

John’s response is the key response of anyone asking why.

“A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:28-30

John the Baptist says the key phrase of following Jesus “I must decrease; He must increase”

John was a man. He had longings and so he paired those longings with desires and was then motivated to fulfill those longings by carrying out his desires.

How you carry out this process will define your life.

John carried out this process in the best way possible.

John tied his longings to the desires that God had for his life. That is why in the moment when John’s public ministry was ending, and he was watching the crowds leave his side, he was okay. John pairing his desires with the desires of God meant that when his “time of fame” was over, he was happy.

John’s longing of importance and acceptance was never paired with a desire for the crowd, it was paired with a desire for Jesus. This meant that John’s longings were fulfilled at the arrival of Jesus.

So ask yourself,

Why am I going to college?

Why am I a mom?

Why am I a mechanic?

Why do I play this sport?

Why am I a nurse?

What are your longings? What did God wire you to long for? And how do you tie those longings to the desires that Jesus has for you.

If you don’t go through this process of understanding your longings and pairing them with Gods desires for you, you will find nothing but disappointment and discouragement.

If your desires aren’t on track with your longings you will be destroyed.

When you fail a class,

When your children leave home,

When you’ve fixed your last car,

When your knee goes out and you can’t play another down,

When you’ve helped your last patient,

Don’t be destroyed. Look at the life of John the Baptist. Pair your longings with good desires and when you’ve reached the end, when the crowd is headed towards Jesus, you will be able to hold your head high and say,

“I must decrease; He must increase.” 

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13 thoughts on “Your Longings Fulfilled

  1. I’ve been thinking and praying about this exact topic for a while now, trying not to set my hopes on worldly things and people but digging deeper into what I feel. The Why of it all, as you said. Why do I feel and want to be loved? Because God gave me an internal longing for His love. Thank you for this strengthening and reminding post.
    Squid

    Liked by 1 person

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