I am an introspective kind of person, so in the past month, as I’ve struggled to ‘take every thought captive’ (2 Cor. 10:5) I have also tried to figure out why I am having a thought problem at all. It feels as though it cropped up randomly, during a time when I had been feeling content. But I don’t really believe in random. After some analysis, I have come to the conclusion that my basic problem comes down to a human desire for romance.
As a follower of Jesus and a student of the Bible, I know that no earthly person, thing, or experience will ever fill the longing of my soul. I know this factually in my mind. Still, this restless longing in my heart does not want to be quieted. It has always been there, but I feel as though a beast was awakened, recently. This week I was driven to my knees to plead with God about it. I know that He is the only cure, yet it seems like it is everything else that I need.
This human condition of longing is deceiving. As a single woman, the particular deception is that if I had a man who loved me, it would satisfy my desires. Of course, if I had a man, I would have other desires, such as children or a house. I think the longing manifests itself differently in different people. Some seek possessions to satisfy their hearts, while others seek simplicity and forsake possessing in their search for peace and happiness. In the end, we are all trying to find a kind of perfect life here on earth.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened-not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 5:1-4
As I reflected on my longing for “romance” in my life, I remembered the definition I learned when studying literature. The word romance originally had connotations that we don’t use much today. It described a story that was exaggerated or extravagant. A romance was by definition a work of fiction, a fantasy, and was not based in the real world. It is indeed the perfect word for the movies that now bear the description, though something else is meant by it. I think romance encapsulates our human longing to have a perfect story for our lives.
Whatever our individual desires for life, we want that glory of perfect romance: to have a relationship that overcomes obstacles because it is true love; to be a hard-luck underdog who wins the championship; to be like the rags-to-riches orphan who finds a perfect home. But we live in a fallen and imperfect world. We get glimpses of these things, but only if we take a narrow view of peoples’ lives. The whole story will never be perfect because human lives are messy with sin. If we seek to fill the longings with anything other than God, we are sure to fail and will never find peace.
The good news is that God is the Perfect Author. Unlike the books and movies that we entertain ourselves with, His story is good and perfect. Yet we stumble over the fact that the story is about Him, and not us. His glory is not always achieved by our victory or comfort. But for those of us who choose the narrow path of following Christ, there is perfection waiting for us. We will be part of the ultimate romance: God’s Redemption Story. While this life on earth will never be perfect, the longing and restlessness for something more reminds us that there is a life eternal in the heavens. There, in our perfected state, every longing will be satisfied.
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
At church last week, we studied Psalms 90. We were challenged to practice numbering our days for the rest of the month of May, reading the Psalm every day and spending time in prayer. At the beginning of the week, verse 12 resounded in my mind through the morning, as intended. But as the week went on, verse 14 began to stand out to me. I began praying it: “Satisfy [me] in the morning with your steadfast love, that [I] may rejoice and be glad all [my] days.” I want so much to be satisfied by Him and His love, but there is a battle between my heart and my head, and sometimes my body, too! I know that I can win this battle because I know that I am choosing the “good portion.” (Luke 10:42) If it continues to drive me to my knees, so be it. I will plead with Him who knows my petitions before I ask. I know that His grace will be sufficient for me, as it has been for many who have gone before.