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Is God Present or Is He Absent?
A Quote from Henri Nouwen
“Maybe we can say that in the center of our sadness for His absence we can find the first signs of His presence. And that in the middle of our longings we discover the footprints of the one who has created them. It is in the faithful waiting for the loved one that we know how much He has filled our life already. Just as lovers can rediscover each other during long periods of absence, so also our intimate relationship with God can become deeper and more mature while we wait patiently in expectation for His return.” (pg 61, Henri Nouwen, “Out of Solitude”)
I don’t often think of God as creating my longings. But He has. He created all of me. But it is in the abuse/misuse/tyranny of these same longings of our sin riddled, depraved souls that the longings become lust and result in treacherous captivity! It is when I allow my soul to take the God-given longing and turn it to lust, to control and manipulate that sin ensues.
Longing for food to sustain my body is not wrong. God created hunger so we would eat and receive nourishment our bodies would need to grow and sustain itself. However, it is when food becomes the end that hunger turns into lust and gluttony. Hunger then becomes selfishness and is about the eating, the taste, the want rather than the need.
I believe it is for this reason, in our culture, that we eat according to what “tastes” good rather than what we need.
Cheesecake over cauliflower.
Butterhorns over broccoli.
Cake over carrots.
We assuage our lust and selfishness.
A Multitude of Cookies
But…it isn’t only with food; this lack translates into many areas of life. I take the natural, good longings created in me by God and through selfishness turn them into tyrannical lust! There is nothing wrong with having “a” cookie; God gave us the skill of baking for our enjoyment as well as sustenance, but there is something wrong with having “ten” cookies at one sitting. There is nothing wrong with eating a handful of grapes but there is when we inhale a kilo of grapes. Again it is not so much the “how many” as the why. Why do I need ten cookies instead of two; six handfuls instead of one? The godly given enjoyment is lost when it becomes wanton desire.
Hiding in the Haycocks (1881) by WIlliam Bliss Baker
But something else happens as well…I become scared of it --- it turns into fear! Instead of applying godly authority to my longings ---I run and try to hide out of fear. All I do is exasperate the problem. Exile the longing in the quest of avoiding the lust! I haven’t confronted the issue, the lust is still there but the sense of if I starve it to death it will go away and then I won’t have to do anything is deadly. It may work for a season…but one slip…and lust is master once more. Just ask the smokers, or the coffee drinkers, or the alcoholics.
Now there are some longings turned lust which must be banished forever. Alcoholism is one. God gave wine for enjoyment but once the root has gone sour it is best to banish the root and no longer feed it, its addiction. There is much that can be put in this category.
adultery…and so on, the list goes on.
Unfortunately because of our depraved nature man is prone to addictions. Not just the ones listed above but food, TV, books, hobbies, exercise, coke, coffee, -- we all deal with our own addiction of choice. Our “comfort” foods, our “comfort” actions – that which I turn to for “comfort,” “strengthening”, “help,” aside from God alone. I may not have “idols” as they did in the Old Testament times or in other countries today, nevertheless, I yet have idols in the form of my passions gone amuck, my addictions, my escapes etc.
However, in solitude, alone with the One who created the original longing, I can find true comfort, true strength, and true help in Him alone; resulting in the return of glorifying, God-honoring, godly longing.
Godly longing will always naturally turn us back to its creator – God Almighty!
© 2010 UlrikeGrace
This article from a fellow hubber, Ken R. Abell may also give you much needed insight an encouragement