Monday, September 28, 2009

Longing for the Bridegroom

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is not water. (Psalm 63:1)

As we passionately pursue Jesus, we begin to realize how powerful a force that yearning is within us. Longing for the Lord can be intense. Throughout his life King David passionately pursued the Lord. David tells us in Psalm 63 that not only his heart, but his whole body ached for God’s presence. Likewise David compares his intense longing for the Lord to the way that a thirsty deer gasps desperately for water in the heat of the Judean desert. “As the deer pants for streams of water,” he cries out in Psalm 42, “so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

Many of the Beguines experienced the same overwhelming desire that David describes in the Psalms. These godly women in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries abandoned themselves to the Lord and longed for him with their whole heart, soul and body.

Intense Love
Because we have the writings of some of these Beguines, we can learn from their intense desire for Christ. Not satisfied with brief daily devotions, as so many Christians settle for in our day, these women sought the Lord in intense prayer. Their spiritual formation was constantly fueled by a burning love for Jesus and a yearning to draw closer to him. Mechthild of Magdeburg expressed to the Lord her inner longing:

Jesus, dearest Lover of mine, let me approach you . . . with deep love for you in my heart, and never let me grow cold, so that I constantly feel your love in my heart and in my soul and in my five senses and in all my members. Then I can never grow cold.

Like David in Psalm 63, Mechthild longed for the Lord with her whole being. Her body literally ached for the Almighty in her life and her physical senses craved his divine touch. Such a spiritual fire characterized the women of the medieval spiritual revival and can be found throughout their writings.

Mechthild’s ardent yearning for the Lord ignited a fire in her heart. Her desire for the Lord was intense and indeed all-consuming. Mechthild cried aloud in her longing for the Lord’s intimate love which is so sweet and wonderful that she said no one could begin to explain “even half of the intensity of my longing and the pain of my suffering and my heart’s pursuit and my soul’s striving for [you], to hang inseparably in your embrace forever.”

Personal Reflection
At times we all ache deeply inside. Instead of trying to ignore that ache or numb it with food, medication or busyness, we need to realize that we are ultimately craving more of God. When we do so, we can begin to allow the Lord to fill all the empty places in our hearts.

2009 © Glenn E. Myers


  1. I like your personal reflection on this. It's true that we try to medicate our deeper longings for God with food, TV, busyness, etc...

    I wonder if part of the reason we do this is becuase we've lost hope that God will meet us in a real way. Do we really believe that we can experience him with the 5 senses? I think we've grown so accustom to using our rational brains to try and experience God that we forget that Jesus tells us to worship him in Spirit and Truth. The word used for Spirit in John 4 means emotions, feelings, desires,etc.

    I wonder what would happen if we were to clear our destractions in the way that the Beguines did? If we fasted, prayed more devoutly, and read scritpure with a zeal. Maybe did these things to the extent that they did we would start to meet God in some new and powerful ways.

    Andrew Peterson

  2. I was so encouraged by this article, and the link to the CBN article. I think there is much truth in the comparison, but I think it is dangerous to blanket any generation with criticism. The Beguines prove this to be true. It is easy to look at at Midevil Christianity as being coldly liturgical and fraught with immorality. But then you stumble upon these saintly women who grew to a noticeable population however still were small in number in society but penetrated society as salt and light. There are leaders that have inspired devout movements today as well the very heart of our Father. What came to my mind reading this is the term that John uses, in Revalations 2 to the Church in Ephesus, "first love".

  3. As I have gone through a difficult period in my spritual journey, my dear friend (who is also my pastor) wisely asked me to think about what I was eating. He explained that our souls always hunger, and that we must decide whether we will be satisfied by good spiritual food, or whether we will allow ourselves to be filled in some other way. After many years of walking with the Lord, I realized that I had left his table and begun eating again those things which I felt would satisfy me--no wonder why I have such a sense of longing!

    I now struggle to identify those wrong food sources are in my life. The weeks seem to stretch into months. I have no real hunger for good spiritual food, and it scares me. When my friend and I last met, he asked me again what I have been eating. I confessed that I am starving myself, or at least am still snacking on sources I have not yet indetified (or been willing to acknowledge).

    If you pray for me, pray that my hunger returns, and that I hunger for good spiritual food.

  4. I noticed that I am hungrier (and thirstier) when I am working out or concentrating on something. Just like our bodies were made to burn calories, our spirits and souls were made to dispense what what we consume. I think the Beguines had the right formula. They received spiritual food, they digested it in meditation through out the day, and they used that nourishment in giving to the poor, taking care of the sick, fellowship, working in the garden, serving others as nannies and maids, and made clothing. I know what you mean, and I hope you know that you are not alone. I will certainly remember to pray for you. Jesus indicated that He alone is nourishment. Think of it as He is your friend, or that you are His child, try spending a few minutes with just Him and the Bible, write down your thoughts. I think as you do this, you probably already have, you will be planting seeds to grow the types of things that will give you what you are looking for. I hate getting unsolicited advice so just shelf this if it doesn't fit. I just didn't want to be curt. You have been given power to be God's child (John 1), more than a conquerer (Romans 8), with spiritual weapons to stand (Eph 6), and you serve a High Priest and King who intercedes for you - and so are we.

  5. I qualify as one who "aches deeply inside" because I once felt closer to the Lord than I do at this time. My relationship with Him is numb with busyness. This “busyness” has been a vicious cycle in my life, and not something that I can easily change. Being a husband, father of five small children, church leader, employed full time in a stressful sales position, and going to school leaves little room for anything else. I wonder if I was not married, and did not have children if I could experience devotion similar to the Beguines. It hurts me when I realize that I have to find more time for God. How could I have allowed this to happen?

  6. I think you are not to something there Andrew. I know it's hard and we are all busy. Some of these people we have read about like Bernard, He sounds like a busy guy. But abiding in Jesus, and taking some time to be still and know that He is God is so important. I think we get kind of uncomfortable in that kind of simplicity.

  7. As the deer is one of my favorite songs when it comes to calling my heart and soul to passionately desiring God. It is songs and scriptures like this that cause the fire of desire to be enflamed and burst into a great light! God's words to us in Scripture and through daily revelation serve as the kindling and firewood that keeps that light within us burning. God's people are the air that waves the flame in beautiful flurls and leaps, providing oxygen and freshness to the fire. Together, the air and wood cause the faithful flame of the believer to grow and mature and crackle with exceeding joy. The stability of the wood and the company of the air give support to the flame when water and sand fall upon the fire, attempting to choke it out. Although the fire may be reduced to a few glowing ashes, or a seemingly useless pile...there is yet hope! We serve a Lord of power and of grace - a God that challenges and pushes, but also lifts up and holds tenderly in His hand. He has a plan in store for that little flame - and oh how that flame desires His presence daily, continuously, and forever.