I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.
IF WE DON’T LONG FOR GOD, THEN SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG. We need Him, even more than the air we breathe, and if we’ve failed to pay attention to Him for so long that we’re no longer conscious of any need or aware of any desire for Him, then we have become insensitive to God in the most tragic way.
When we fail to long for God, it’s a great pity, for we miss one of the best joys available to us in this world. It may seem contradictory to say that joy can come from longing or wanting something we don’t yet possess, but it’s a fact. The feeling may be what we call “bittersweet,” but with the proper mindset, bittersweet joys are often the ones that are most deeply felt. When we’re conscious of the void in our hearts that was meant to be filled by God and that sense of emptiness moves us to yearn for the day when it will be filled, the longing that we feel is as good as it is great.
Longing for God, however, is more than a feeling; it is an inner disposition or attitude. As such, longing for God is a thing that can be learned. It is no coincidence that David, a man who surely longed for God, could say, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.” The way to have a deeper sensitivity to our need for God is to spend regular time thinking about Him. Thoughtfully appreciating His works in creation will cause us to long for Him, but even more than that, studying the biblical record of His acts in history will impress on us our need for His deliverance and redemption.
But it takes time to do the things that deepen our longing for God, and therein lies the rub. We are a busy people. We have little time to ponder God’s works or study His words. But let’s be honest: do we have so little longing for God because we’re busy, or are we so busy because we have little longing for God? Once we answer that question with integrity, things will start looking up.
“If you are never alone with God, it is not because you are too busy; it is because you don’t care for him, you don’t like him. And you had better face the facts” (Al-Ghazali).