God wants us to embrace holy longing in our hearts. Longing is yearning for something or someone. Yearning is a feeling of intense desire for something. Those who were used by God embraced holy longing in their hearts. A longing is a thirst. Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (Jn. 7:37). A longing is a passion; it is an inner fire. Longing is the power that moves us.
God wants us to have desire through longing. God works in us by giving us the desire to do what pleases him (Phil. 2:13). To desire is to want. Hope is our dream, and our life’s purpose. Desire is a longing to possess something, to be someone, and to accomplish something. Desire is a great energy. Desire is a power to endure through hardships and overcome trials. Those who have desire have a sharp look on their eyes and walk in confidence. They have a different posture toward life. In contrast, people without desire live their lives like airless balloon. They have no vibrancy in their lives.
Hope is the reason and purpose for living. For such reason, those with holy desire never give up their lives. Those with desperate desire overcome despair and discouragement. They overcome a sense of weariness and break through difficulties. Desire is a necessary element of our lives. It is what fuels life. God works according to our desires. For such reason, when desire arises in us we must value and cherish the desire. From the moment we embrace desire in our hearts we start praying for the accomplishment of the desire. We start setting goals to accomplish the desire. In order to achieve the goals, we start putting things into action.
Having a desire is not an option. It is a necessity. However, many people, just as Henry David Thoreau describes it, are living in ‘quiet desperation.’ Some of you once had desire but gave up on your hope because you have settled for status quo. Some of you gave up your desire because you were enslaved by your surroundings. Some of you settled for status quo because you were too fearful to pay the price for achieving the desire. We must have desire again. Having desire surpasses age and physical limit. I have seen many people who had desires in their heart even during the latter days of their lives. They are the ones living in eternal youth.
Every time Jesus encountered people he helped them to realize their inner desires. Jesus asked them, “What do you want? What do you want me to do for you?” He tested them to see how great of a desire they had in them.
When you have a desire, have a strong desire. We tend to pray more desperately when we have a strong desire. In order to have strong desire, we must learn to focus on just one desire. In order to focus on just one desire, we must learn how to prune. When we try to accomplish several things at once, we will not be able to accomplish anything. Strategy is in focusing. When we focus on one desire and gaze upon it as we dream and think about it intensely, amazing things will begin to take place. Desire doesn’t become strong just from thinking about it once or twice casually. Our desire becomes strong when we think and meditate on it day and night. That’s when a strong desire becomes burning desire. When we embrace a burning desire, passionate emotions rise from us. Then we could pray like Hannah and the persistent widow from Luke 18.
God sometimes allows us to go through pain in order awaken a desire in us. It was through pain that God put a desire for a son in Hannah's heart. As Hannah’s pain deepened, her desire became stronger. When Hannah’s desire became even stronger, she was able to pray an earnest prayer. The result was amazing. Her desire finally became an instrument that fulfilled the will of God.
Longing is a gift from God. St. Augustine said, “Longing is a treasure chest of the heart.” The holiest longing of all is the longing for God. It is to be thirsty for God. The final destination of the holy longing we embrace in our heart is God. In the last days of his life, Apostle Paul only longed for Jesus. He only longed for the cross. It is the season of Lent. May you long more for Jesus and love the Lord more passionately in this season of Lent. Shalom.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.