Sometimes an indefinable longing enters the house my mind calls home. The sense of void enters like an intruder opening the door we hardly ever use and have forgotten to lock after the grandchildren have left it unfastened. The impulse sneaks in unwanted like a random thought or an unfounded panic. The desire does not seem to have an origin. The uncomfortable need flies in like the stray geese that flirt with landing on the small pond out back and on the rare occasion actually choose to thump down with a splash. I hear them often, but I’m never quite prepared for them to grace me with their company.
Drawn and haggard with want, I pursue this longing. I thirst like the deer crave for water brooks. It is a kind of unsettling in my gut leaving behind a restless famine. I let it take hold of me. I leave out to go hunting down this desire. Like a stranded islander desperate for the meal that will transform his last day into a new day, I stalk the illusive prey. I strive for the sound of the sizzling meat over the campfire. My nostrils flare. I long for the nourishment it translates into wellbeing. I thirst for the peace it provides – the kind that the Hebrews visualized and tried to capture with the word shalom – that flawless wholeness that includes body, mind, and spirit congealed into a kind of integrity that keeps the soul running forever like a well-oiled machine. I strive for that emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual flourishing that eradicates every particle of dust that adulterates my soul. I want the sense of emptiness to dissipate like smoke dissolving into a soft breeze.
But then, and again, I find that God has been trying to get me to seize the treasure I’ve been seeking since the search began. It is already in my heart. It is His healing voice. Like the prodigal returning to his home, Jesus has been waiting for me (Luke 15). At the end of my journey, I find I am in possession of what I have to have. God has been right where I began. The hunt is over. All along, His wise Word was right here at home.
“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.” (Deuteronomy 30:12-14)