Sehnsucht

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Sehnsucht_zwintscher.jpg

Sehnsucht by Oskar Zwintscher, c.1900

 

Sometimes is easy to get caught up in the now moment and feel as though right now is all there is.  Then, there are times when reality sets in and you start feeling a sense of longing, because even though you perceive there is much more to life, you’re often unsure of where you’re heading or what’s ahead.  You ask yourself: Could this feeling be homesickness?  Is it frustration? Anxiety? or perhaps reflection?  The truth is, It could be all of that and more.  I experience this often myself, and while reading the book, The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, I came across a passage where he talks about the German word Sehnsucht.

Sehnsucht [ˈzeːnzʊxt] is a noun translated as “longing”, “yearning”, or “craving”, or in a wider sense a type of “intensely missing”. Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes. Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call “home”. In this sense it is a type of “Nostalgia”, in the original sense of that word. At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sehnsucht)

Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe, you might really be homesick for home; your real home.  The scriptures tell us that “we are not of this world.” therefore, it would suffice it to say that our hearts long for that world we were created for.  Is not a strange thought, in fact, what you and I are feeling is very real.  Sometimes I find myself staring at the sky and a strong feeling of yearning overwhelms me.  Sara Groves encapsulates this feeling perfectly through the beginning lyrics of her song, “Going Home”.

[quote]I’ve been feeling kind of restless
I’ve been feeling out of place
I can hear a distant singing
A song that I can’t write
But it echoes of what I’m always trying to say
There’s a feeling I can’t capture
It’s always just a prayer away
I want to know the ending
Things hoped for but not seen
But I guess that’s the point of hoping anyway
Of going home…[/quote]

And so, what are we to do with these feelings?  How do we cope with the fact that we are in a world that is not our own?  When my heart longs for the eternal and I find myself overwhelmingly unfit for this world, I encourage myself with the words of the Apostle Peter on 2 Peter 1:5-11,

5-9 So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

10-11 So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now. Do this, and you’ll have your life on a firm footing, the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I am actively taking every opportunity to seek the kingdom of God while here on earth, but my heart is elsewhere.  I know where I belong and it beckons me to stay close, focus, and alert.  I know who holds me captive as the source of my innermost desire.  I am homesick for a far off yet familiar place; a place reserved for me. I can’t help it!  I am Sehnchucht for home.  And home is wherever God exists, a very real place where he waits for me with arms open wide.

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