What do you long for?

Trey Ratcliff

What do people do who long for something? They run toward it. This struck me anew on my way back from a recent mission trip to Ethiopia. Upon arriving back in the states my heart was longing to see my family. When I saw them for the first time in 10 days I made a beeline to embrace Anna and the kids. Indeed, longing is not a weak emotion — longing moves you to run (either literally or metaphorically) toward the object of your affection.

As Christians we long for Christ. He is the object of our ultimate affection. Therefore, we design our lives around the single, earnest pursuit of Him. Isn’t this what Jesus meant when he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). In other words, our lives are not about seeking “all these things,” but Christ.

There is an important implication of this understanding of the Christian life. Christianity is not primarily about running away from things, whether drugs or alcohol or pornography or greed or jealousy or anger or envy or strife. To be sure, we do flee that which is evil (cf., Romans 12:9), but only in the glorious pursuit of something greater, namely, Christ. In this sense, Christianity is not “defensive” in its posture. Rather, given that “Christ always leads us in triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14), we are marching forward in the unstoppable advance of the gospel.

This is the note the author to the Hebrews strikes in chapter 12. He says that one of the ways we “run with endurance the race set before us” is by “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (vv. 1-2). The best runners in a race are not looking to their left or right or backwards, but ever forward to the goal. And in the race of faith that is our life, we fix our eyes on Jesus. For he is the longing of our hearts; he is the goal of our salvation.

So if you find yourself getting weary on your run, lift your head to heaven. Look to Jesus, the One who promises to finish the good work he’s begun in you. He will provide all the grace you need to finish your course so that you “receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

[Photo: Trey Ratcliff]

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