Summary: Faith is a journey of letting go of all to follow Christ.
Longing for Something More, Luke 14:26-33
My house seems always to be filled with activity. From an active two year old boy, a smiley baby boy, a goofy Saint Bernard, and all of the normal and abnormal happenings in my home I often take advantage of the quiet hours after everyone else is in bed to write, prepare sermons, or read. My last activity of every evening is to take Happy the Saint Bernard on one last walk for the night. One of these evening walks, not so long ago, stands out in my memory. It was about midnight in the chill of early spring in Northern Michigan. As she and I strolled up Huron Street in Cheboygan, I had her thick strap of a leash in one hand and my thoughts of God in the other.
As I walked I found myself praying for the church, praying for my family, and praying for a more intimate relationship with God. As I talked to God I found myself longing for something more. I am rather pleased with my life. There is little about being a husband or a father that I find disagreeable. There is little about the ministry that I find unpleasant. Even in the struggles of family life and ministry, God is always working. His love is always obvious if we keep a careful eye open for it. I, probably just like many of you, am a rather content and blessed person. Yet, in spite of my contentedness, I often find myself longing for something more than this world has to offer.
I am convinced that all of us, if we are honest with ourselves and with one another, sometimes, perhaps often, find ourselves filled with a sense of longing for something more than what we see around us; longing for something more than what is available in this world. It is as though we are homesick but know not the place for which our hearts long. It is as though we miss something terribly but can not quite put our finger on who or what it is for which our hearts long. Observations of the human experience compel me to believe that each of carries this burden of longing, though we do listen to it to varying degrees.
Just last week Christina, Sebastian, and Ephram flew down to Florida where they met up with Christina’s mother before driving to Louisiana to spend a few days with Christina’s brother and his family. Christina is a brave woman to fly alone with an active two year old and a baby! Two year old Sebastian and I are very close. He is always very concerned where I am and regularly does his best to get me to work from home so that I will be near.
On days when I do work from the church office, it is not uncommon for the church secretary, Ellen, and I to have one or more visits from Christina and the kids. While Sebastian was gone in the South for a week, he perfected a phrase which he has only recently come to use, “I miss you daddy.” He now says it if we are only apart for a few minutes or a few hours. He hugs my leg and tells me that he has missed me.
We have been talking about the grace-filled life and learning to see God in a new way so that we might not be seekers of God’s mercy but rather, that we might be active participants in the work of God’s grace. Just as Sebastian misses his daddy, just as he longs for my return, our hearts long for something more than this world has to offer. Indeed, our hearts long to know the heart of Abba, as Jesus affectionately referred to God as our Heavenly Father – “Daddy.”
The question is often raised, “What is a disciple of Jesus?” What does it mean to follow after Jesus? What does it mean to be a Christian? The term Christian means “one who is like Christ.” If then, we are to be like Christ, then by what means am I to attain such a state? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In our longing for something more, in our seeking to be disciples, in our seeking to be like Christ, we must learn what faith is.
There are those who tell us that “faith is knowing that we know that we know!” These folks tell us that faith means that we are always certain of God’s existence and even more so, that we are always certain of His work in our lives. Perhaps I am not alone when I say that there are times having that kind of faith is difficult for me. Perhaps I am not alone when I say that for me, faith is not a destination of absolute knowledge. Faith is a journey of longing for something more.