Summary: What is your longing, your passion, your priority, your driving force in life? For every individual and every Church it must be a living, personal, daily relationship with the Resurrected Christ.
Longing for Jesus
When preachers get together, someone may comment, “That will preach.” Inspiration for a sermon comes from many people and places. A few weeks ago in our Academy for Christian Training and Service one of our readings for reflection came from the book YEARING TO KNOW GOD’S WILL by Danny E. Morris, the founder and Executive Director of the Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation. Morris’ reflection really spoke to Liz’s heart in a special way, especially these words: “Nothing is more urgent in our lives or in our congregations than yearning to know and do God’s will. We must keep our eyes and hearts on our purpose and goal.” [SOURCE: Discovering God’s Will Together by Danny E. Morris as quoted by Norman Shawchuck and Reuben P. Job in A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2006), 246]
Morris inspired Liz to write these words in her journal and share with us: “Do the people that sit in our churches on Sunday morning really pray for God’s will for themselves and their Church? What is God’s will for me? For the Church? Do we take it seriously?” [SOURCE: Liz Reynolds, Sunday Evening, 10 June 2007, Academy for Christian Training and Service, Trinity United Methodist Church, Kankakee, Illinois] Thus Danny Morris and my wife inspired me to preach this message this morning.
Danny Morris is conclusively correct: “Nothing is more urgent in our lives or in our congregations than yearning to know and do God’s will. We must keep our eyes and hearts on our purpose and goal.” That evening in our Academy for Christian Training and Service God directed me to two words that appear several times in Scripture: yearning and longing. Yearnings, longings are emotions, mind sets that drive us to achieve or obtain something. When we yearn or long for someone or something we are constantly and passionately driven towards that person or towards achieving our goal. Our yearning, our longing, is our passion, our priority. Our yearning, our longing, becomes the driving force in our lives.
What is your longing, your passion, your priority, your driving force in life? In July of 1971, having completed my first year of seminary at Asbury and becoming a Probationary Member and being ordained a Deacon in the Southern Illinois Annual Conference, I was privileged to accompany my friends The Rev. Henry Clay Wright and his wife Mary on their pulpit exchange to what was then Trinity Methodist Church in Sutton, Surrey, England.
Thirty years later I was an official delegate from our Illinois Great Rivers Conference and Liz an official guest to the World Methodist Conference in Brighton, England. All these years I have continually longed and yearned to return to The United Kingdom for an extended pastorate of my own in the British Methodist Conference, perhaps for as long as a two or three year period. It is still my prayer and my passion that someday the Holy Spirit may open those doors of opportunity for such a ministry.
That has been a longing, a yearning in my heart for over thirty-six years. There is never a week that goes by, or hardly even a day, that I don’t dream about it. But if that is my sole yearning, longing, passion, my only driving force in life, I am off track, for the Psalmist is right on target when he testifies in Psalm 84:1-4
How lovely is Your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints
For the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh cry out
For the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may have her young—
A place near Your altar, O LORD Almighty,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They are ever praising you.
For what does your soul yearn and even faint? Can you say it is “for the courts of the LORD?” The sparrow has found a home and the swallow a nest for her young near the altar of the LORD Almighty! Have we found your home there? Is our nest near His altar? Is our passion, our yearning, our longing, for our King and our God?
For what or for whom do you long and yearn? Yearning or longing are indeed a matter of our priority in life. Who or what is of most importance and significance in your life? Can you truly testify that your “heart and flesh cry out for the living God?” Do you find your happiness, your joy by dwelling in His house and every praising His name? Is your home, your nest near His altar? Is He your King and your God?