FleHome 05-11-178


Longing for Spiritual Intimacy


Jean Fleming

NavPress, 1995, 143 pp., ISBN 0-89109-903-4


Jean Fleming and her husband Roger, serve on staff with The Navigators.  This artistic, almost poetic little book articulates and examines our strange longings.


“We all experience deep, voiceless yearnings that we cannot articulate.  But where do such longings come from?  And what do they mean?  (back cover)


“Like Adam, we have all lost Paradise; and yet we carry Paradise around inside of us in the form of a longing for, almost a memory of, a blessedness that is no more, or the dream of a blessedness that may someday be again.” (16, quoting Frederick Buechner)


“We can’t adequately define our longings, but we can’t deny them either.”  “It feels like homesickness.”  (18)


“Even the best parts of our lives leave the empty space at the core of our being still yearning.” (19)


“Are our irrefutable and universal longings the most accurate indication of our origin, purpose, and destiny?” (21)


“Our longings are meant to keep us searching.  If longings exist, then that which will fulfill them must exist.”  “Just as we know something has been lost, we feel it must not be lost to us forever.  The air carries a promise, a hope, an assurance that it may be recovered.”   (22)


“For me, the call comes and disappears before I can name it.  When it comes, my spirit rises to something—a melody, a scent, a brush of the wind against my skin.” (22)


“God sends out the breath of His yearning.  This call from God touches the supreme interest of the soul and our soul rises up in response....” (24)


“He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). (24)


“Just as we look for a home on earth to shelter us physically, we sense in our spirits that we were made for a Home of another order.” (24)


God longs too.  Our longing is but a shadow of His.”  “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you” (Isaiah 30:18). (29, 31)


“In an amazing display of longing, God takes the initiative to make Himself known.” (33)


“The sun and moon are part of God’s diverse and profuse communication with humanity.  He sows planets and stars in space like so many crops on earth.”  “everywhere God is trying to startle us awake that we might see Him.” (34-5)


“I am moved by the act of revelation itself.  That God, holy and majestic, puts aside His dignity and manifests Himself in the most ordinary kinds of things astonishes me.” (35)


“God reveals His longing heart as He parcels out His magnificence in little packages that only imperfectly represent Him so that we might know Him.” (36)


“It seems that God will try almost anything to get our attention.” (39)


“What is it we crave, if not life?  Not our life that comes with the seeds of death embedded in it.  But real life, true life, pure LIFE.”  (45)


“God’s speaking—the Speaker and the Message spoken—lived among us.”  “The Eternal One left His Home and pitched His tent beside ours—a sacrifice hard to imagine.” (45)


“When eternity and birth express themselves in a stable in the Middle East, the greatest mystery of all is pushed into an unprepared world.” (48)  “Life appeared and we failed to recognize Him because He looked like us.” (49)


“In every reading of Jesus’ gospel biographies, I am more acutely aware that thought He is much like us, He is different enough that He could have come from another world.  As indeed He did.” (50)


Redemption is a word full of homesickness.  Everywhere humanity seeks to be made right, to be set free, to make amends, to recover what was lost.” (55)


“Whether by the most perverted form—human sacrifice—or by what might seem ludicrous or bizarre, we sense something must be done.” (56)


“We yearn for redemption, whether we acknowledge it or not, because we’re infected and terminal.” (59)


“Even in our rebellion something of our intended humanity exerts itself.  The person we were created to be wails from some distant cavern of our existence.  That voice won’t let the dream die.” (59)


“Our longings get us moving.  They activate our search for that which will satisfy, but our longings can lead us anywhere.  It is a tragic thing to come close and to miss Him....” (69)


“The pursuit of happiness never ends, because happiness is not an end.  Happiness, after all, isn’t what we’re really longing for.  Happiness is merely as far as we can see from our place here in the lowlands.”  “What you seek may not look like what you expect.” (69)


“Unfortunately, their ideas about him prevented them from recognizing Him when He came.  Most of those who stood close enough to reach out and touch Him, missed Him.  During the years Jesus lived on earth it happened all the time.  It still happens today.” (73)


“Jesus said He came to reveal the Father.  The disconcerting fact is, He isn’t the God we expected to find.” (73)  “In Jesus Christ God is revealed and hidden.  In Jesus Christ we either find God or lose Him.” (74)


“Conversion is the connection of God’s longing and my own.”  Conversion is an event and a process.  It is the initial intertwining of two that makes something new and organic.  Two lives unite.  Two become one.  ‘I am His and He is mine.’” (82)


“He calls to us.  We can do no more than turn.  The distance is immense.  Then God Himself closes the gap, bridges the chasm, and floods in.  Conversion—the mystery of God invading a life by permission.” (84)


“My unquenchable yearning and the desire for something now is not so much a lack of patience as it is an insupportable need.  I long for some reality of relationship with God, some measure of healing, some power toward perfection....” (92)


“The same might power that raised Jesus from the dead and sent death reeling backwards, came as a dynamo to inhabit the fragile human shell.  When Jesus took back His life in that tomb-cave, He achieved a cosmic victory and came laden with spoils, showering those who believe with Life.  Life now.” (94)


“Jesus’ resurrection is meant to flag me awake to another possibility, another realm of reality, another me, which is the very stuff for which I’ve been longing.”  (95)


“A most gracious house guest, He moves about quietly, unobtrusively, never makes a mess; but He leaves marks of His presence everywhere.” (95)


“This is not Heaven, but the Spirit of God lives in me and I sample the first taste of what is ahead.  This is precisely what my longing heart is starving for.” (97)


“Consciously or unconsciously, we place our home in the center of the map we dear.”  “For better or worse, we never fully leave home.  And when we make God Himself our dwelling place, we need never leave Home.” (106-7)


“When you think of it, thirsts and hungers are gifts in themselves.  Preliminary gifts.  Gifts, like compasses and maps, intended to help us to our destination.” (112)


“Satisfied and hungry still.  This jarring paradox is the bridge that spans the expanse between here and eternity...and Home.” (116)


“We have a way of adjusting to slavery, of preferring the certainty of lunch over Heaven.” (121)


“A healthy soul pines for something beyond this world.  It is the pain and pleasure of seeking God that causes the soul to thrive.  The ache for Home is a mercy, our unease absolutely necessary.  Homesickness is a kind reminder, faithful to the end, that without guarding, even a pilgrim might set up permanent camp here beside dry wells and drink form broken cisterns.” (124-25)


“Most of all, I desire a newness that will allow me to enter fully into the Relationship I’ve begun on earth, to fully claim my family inheritance.” (133)  “In that day God’s good intentions will be fully displayed.”  (14)


“Redemption is the great theme of the Bible, and homesickness seeps from the pores of every page.” (134)


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