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Walking Points

Our Restless Longing: God's Hound of Heaven


I watched a series on Netflix and a movie on Amazon a couple of years ago in which the protagonist in each was an atheist - depressed, lonely, snarky, and absolutely interesting, but desperately looking for… longing for… meaning. It was sort of sad to observe the writers’ attempts to guide their characters in their pursuit for meaning in a life without God. I had a heavy heart as I reflected on how hollow their efforts were, no matter how well put together the stories were. They each had a longing no temporal solution could ultimately fill, though they both sought an optimistic ending. One did better than the other in moving Godward. In this life there’s always hope. 

The longing for meaning is a universal human experience. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” This verse reminds us that our hearts are wired for eternity; we have a God-given awareness that there is more to life than what we see.

However, when people seek to fill this void with anything but God, the results are inevitably empty and unfulfilling. The atheist protagonists I observed in the two stories were poignant illustrations of this truth. Despite their intriguing personalities and clever dialogue, they couldn’t escape the gnawing sense of emptiness.

In John 4, we encounter the Samaritan woman at the well. She was searching for meaning in relationships and found herself repeatedly disappointed. Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). Here, Jesus identifies himself as the only source of true and lasting fulfillment.

C.S. Lewis once said, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” Lewis’ words point us to the reality that our deepest longings can only be met in Christ. This aligns wonderfully with the beautiful words of St. Augustine’s prayer, at the beginning of his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

The stories I watched were a stark reminder of the despair that results when we seek meaning apart from God. But they also highlighted a vital Christian truth - there is always hope in this life because God’s call is ever-present and his prevenient grace, like the “hound of heaven,” is ever-chasing and ever-beckoning us to come to him.

Key Principles

  1. Eternal Longing: Our hearts are inherently aware of eternity and can only be satisfied by God.
  2. True Fulfillment: Lasting fulfillment is found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
  3. Ever-Present Hope: No matter how far one strays, there’s always hope in God’s redemptive grace and love.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Have you ever experienced a sense of emptiness or longing that you couldn’t explain? How did you address it?
  2. How do you think our culture tries to fill the void that only God can satisfy?
  3. In what ways do you see people around you searching for meaning?
  4. How does understanding that eternity is set in our hearts change your perspective on daily life?
  5. What are some practical ways to share the hope and fulfillment you have found in Christ with others?
  6. Can you identify areas in your life where you have sought (or, are seeking) fulfillment apart from God? How can you redirect those desires towards him?
  7. How does the promise of “never being thirsty again” in John 4:14 encourage you in your walk with Christ?

Action Steps

  1. Reflect Daily: Spend time each day in prayer and reflection, asking God to reveal areas where you are seeking fulfillment outside of him.
  2. Saturate Yourself in Scripture: Make a commitment to read and meditate on the Bible regularly, focusing on passages that speak to God’s promise of fulfillment.
  3. Share Your Story: Look for opportunities to share your personal testimony of finding meaning in Christ with friends, family, and coworkers who may be searching for the same.

It’s my deepest prayer that God would remind us regularly that our deepest longings are only satisfied in Christ, and that we would faithfully extend this hope to those around us who are still searching. Amen.

Dale Tedder

Dale Tedder is a Global Methodist pastor in Jacksonville, Florida. If you would like to keep up with his online ministry or read other things Dale has written, you can check out his website, Walking Points. You can check out his author’s page for books he has written. Finally, Dale’s podcast, Walking Points, can be heard wherever you listen to podcasts.

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