Psalm 84 | Luke 2:41-52 | Jeremiah 31:7-14 | Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19

In Psalm 84, the Psalmist uses the words, “my soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord” – how all of us in 2020 can relate! It has been nearly 10 months since many of us have been on the inside of our churches! We long for the opportunity to gather as the united body of Christ within the church walls, to sing, pray and share together. Let us not be mistaken, however. We are still the body of Christ, even though separated. Singing, praying, and sharing is still taking place, both individually and through the wonderful workings of technology. God’s work is still being done to heal, comfort and provide for those in need. And yet, our souls still long and search right now. The Scripture from Luke for today gives us quite a graphic example of searching as Mary and Joseph look frantically for their 12-year-old son, Jesus, who was found “in my Father’s house.” Jesus was surprised they were so frantic; didn’t they know he’d be there?

We all have times of longing and searching in our lives. My most profound time of searching occurred when I was in Colorado Springs for 2 years. I was longing and searching, both physically and spiritually. I was far away from family, friends, and the spiritual environment with which I was familiar and comfortable. I was hurting, lost and afraid and I was searching quite frantically for God and the comfort of family, friends and the beauty of New England. Don’t get me wrong, Colorado is BEAUTIFUL, but there is something about the way the crashing waves of the New England coastline feed, comfort and heal my soul. I longed deeply to sit on the rocks at Breton Point or one of our beautiful beaches and allow the pounding surf and God’s ever-present spirit to bring healing to my hurting soul. Over time, all of that did happen, in mighty and powerful ways … but in God’s time, not mine.

What is important to note, though, is that an amazing amount of healing, comforting, and feeding was done in my soul through this painful time of longing and searching.  Because I didn’t have the “easy-to-access” comforts I longed for, my yearning and searching led me to find new ways to find God, experiencing the powerful Love of God, and doing so in a different place, with different people. (I was greatly blessed to have many godly and caring guides to help me through this time.) I needed to long and yearn for God in that time and in that way, so I could find and experience God, more profoundly than I could have imagined.

Times of longing and searching can be hard and painful, indeed, like it is right now, but they are not necessarily all bad. If we are open to God working in new and different ways, we might just be amazed at what God will do. The choice is ours – to embrace or resist the changes in our lives right now. The choice is ours – to be open to new ways of God working in and through our lives, or to continue to long and search for how everything was before. Longing and searching can be a blessing, as long as we are open.

Nance Arnold

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