Take a close look at people anywhere today and you'll see evidence of a variety of inner longings. Here are a few that stand out:
1. The Longing for Justice.
Most humans long for a united world, for healthy societies, for people, for hope and for prosperity for all. Even children understand the difference between fairness and unfairness. We all want justice … yet it seems so elusive. Sometimes it wins – tyrannies are toppled, slavery is abolished, criminals and convicted and the poor are helped. Sometimes it doesn't – bullies get away, victims aren't compensated, and the rich rule over the poor.
Is this longing for justice merely a naïve childish fantasy or an escapist world that never will exist or it is evidence of someone speaking to us, calling us to put the world right, to make it as it was intended to be?
2. The Quest for Spirituality.
Despite the rampant materialism and religious scepticism of age, people hunger for something beyond themselves. Somehow we feel we were made for more than this. Like the band U2 sings, many people would say, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for." Spirituality is in. You see it in new age mysticism (tarot cards, crystals and horoscopes) and eastern religion (meditation and reincarnation). Walk into any bookshop and you'll see a growing Mind, Body, Spirit section with books on dreams, angels, Celtic spirituality and Kabbalah.
Is this inner quest just an imaginary dream or a wish fulfillment OR is there someone or something out there, seeking to make contact with us, letting us know that we are not alone in the world?
3. The Hunger for Relationships.
We know that were made for each other. We belong in relationships. Even shy and introverted don’t want complete or long-term aloneness. Our sense of meaning and purpose is often found in connection with others – our family, a work group, a sports team, a church, a service team, a club or a small group.
Yet relationships can be difficult at times. Marriages made in heaven can sometimes end not far from hell. Our greatest joys and memories often occur in the context of relationships but so do some of our greatest pains and regrets. Sexuality and gender are important aspects of the human condition but sometimes they are complex and complicated. Then there is death itself, which calls into question the notion that we exist for relationships. Impermanence can be tragic as anyone who has grieved the loss of a loved one can tell you. We all experience the pain of brokenness in our human relationships.
Where does this desire for connection come from? Is it the echo of a Creator who designed us for partnership not just for ourselves? Is He offering us something of himself and some kind of rescue in our brokenness? Could it be that the laughter and tears that are woven deep into the human experience are also part of God’s heart?
4. The Delight in Beauty.
We live in a world of beauty … and yet it can fade so quickly. We buy the recording of the music, we travel to that exotic place or we climb to the top of that mountain. We revel in the pleasure of the experience … but then it's gone and we are left longing for more. It's over too soon. It is an itch that never goes away.
Is this delight in beauty a signpost to a larger beauty, a deeper truth, or higher more complete world?
Each of these longings seems to be an echo that points beyond itself – to a voice nearby but out of sight.
C.S. Lewis once said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." The very existence of hunger proves that food exists that will satisfy that hunger. The very existence of thirst indicates that there is drink to satisfy that thirst.
Are these longings pointing to another world that is closer than we think? I believe that the voice is God's, most fully expressed in Jesus. The good news of the Gospel is that there is an answer to these longings. The kingdom of God is available for us now … but even more fully at the return of Christ as King of this world. We can enter the kingdom now – a kingdom of justice, loving relationships, spiritual life and beauty. Then we join in God's work, praying "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
[These thoughts were gleaned from Tom Wright's book Simply Christian]