What We Long For
Augustine once prayed, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” We all have an unquenchable yearning in our hearts, a yearning for nothing less than to share in God’s own eternally full life. This is why our deepest desires cannot be permanently satisfied by anything in this world. More specifically, the life of God is nothing other than the perfect love that eternally unites the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and this Triune God spoke creation into being with the ultimate goal of inviting humans to share in this life. This is what God created us to long for!
The great Puritan theologian and pastor Jonathan Edwards expressed this concept in a powerful way in his famous work A Dissertation Concerning The End for Which God Created the World. Edwards painted a portrait of the Trinity in which the love and joy of the three divine persons was so full and intense, it simply could not be contained. God’s fullness thus yearned to be expressed and replicated by sharing it with others. So this fullness overflowed, as it were, as God brought forth creation and that mirrored his triune beauty. And the pinnacle of this creation is created beings whose yearnings for God mirrors, in a small way, his yearning for them. But whereas God’s yearning comes out of his fullness, our yearning comes out of emptiness.
It’s a beautiful arrangement. The God of overflowing love longs to pour his love into others, so he created beings that long for his love to be poured into them.
It wasn’t God’s original intention for us to ever go a moment with this longing unsatisfied. Living without the fullness of God’s love is a reality we have brought on ourselves through our rebellion, and it’s completely unnatural to us. And try as we may to run from it or numb it, the pain of our unnatural emptiness is acute and incurable. The profundity of our emptiness is the negative reflection of the profundity of the fullness of the One we long for.
God’s ultimate goal in creation is nothing less than for the very same perfect love that the Father has for his own Son to be given to us and to be placed within us. Not only this, but his goal is for Jesus himself to dwell in us and for us to dwell in him (see John 15:4-5). We become the recipients of the Father’s eternal love for the Son because we are in the Son and he is perfectly loved, and the Son is in us, as he is perfectly loved.
God’s plan is to completely envelop everyone who is willing into the threefold loving eternal dance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And as a result, the love of the Triune God will be replicated toward us, in us, and through us as we love God and one another. I can’t imagine a loftier and more beautiful goal for humanity than this!
—Adapted from Benefit of the Doubt, pages 57-60