Lent with Julian of Norwich #3 – Purposeful Longing


As for the third gift..I conceived a strong desire to receive three wounds in my life; that is to say, the wound of true contrition, the wound of kind compassion and the wound of purposeful longing for God.

Julian of Norwich Revelations of Divine Love; Long Text Chapter 2

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice that you share the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His Glory.

1 Peter 4: 12-13

‘As a deer pants for water, so my soul longs for you my God’, the sons of Korah cried in Psalm 42. Henri Nouwen wrote in The Return of the Prodigal Son : “I wonder whether I have sufficiently realised that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.”

There is such tension in our quest for deeper relationship with God. As the fullness of God dwelt in Christ, so that same fullness dwells in us through the Holy Spirit; even though we so often experience what may seem to be separation, God is never distant. I have four daughters, one of whom I find harder to connect with than maybe the others. This involves experiencing the pain of seeing her seemingly reject the love that I am just desperate to communicate to her. My love for her never diminishes, even if (unlike God) my patience sometimes fails me. Oh how I long for her to know the extent to which I love her. I suspect this touches in some small part how God feels about us, which is of course why he became incarnate, so that we would know the length that he would go to demonstrate his perfect love for the world. So when we long for God, what are we longing for? Are we asking him to do the impossible, to come closer? Or are we purposefully asking him to lead us on a journey of trusting that which already exists within each and every one of us, the fulness of perfect love, whether we feel it of not.

The wounds for Julian were many, and yet from them we have been gifted a lasting revelation of God’s love that spans the test of 600 years.

Categories: Devotional, Lent 2019

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