By Sarah Morrison
Staff Writer for The Daily Grace Co.
In the suburbs of Houston, our house was tucked away near woods, and our backyard was like a wonderland for a five-year-old. I spent hours exploring, looking for bugs and salamanders, picking weeds that I thought were flowers. When it rained, I would sit outside under an umbrella, watching the water drops hit the Jasmine bush, releasing its sweet perfume. I grew up with bare feet, traipsing through our yard and the woods, climbing trees, and looking for animals.
Those bare feet were constantly pricked with splinters. The sharp, annoying pain in my heel would drive me back indoors to the lap of my mother, who would examine it closely. Within the first few moments, I’d know whether this splinter required tweezers or a sewing pin. I hated the sewing pin, digging in and popping out the foreign piece of wood. Once, the splinter was too deep for either tool, and my mom shared with me that the splinter would come out on its own. My body would recognize the irritation and push out the splinter. No need for tweezers—my body knew what to do. Given a handful of days, the splinter would be gone.
In more recent months, I’ve related to that splinter. I’ve sought to sink deeply, only to be rejected and pushed out. I’ve sought a home but been rejected. I’ve wriggled in a place and have been shoved back in return. What is this feeling— is it unhappiness, discontentment, dissatisfaction? Have I been spurned because of pride, envy, or control? No. I think it’s just a deep-seated yearning of my heart. I’ve felt pushed out because this world has never been capable of satisfying the children of God.
I’m certainly not untouched by discontent, pride, or unhappiness and I tend to have an unhealthy relationship with control. But these things don’t seem to be the flesh that is forcing me out in this regard. What’s pushing me back like a thorn in my side is a restlessness. A blessed restlessness. An impatience to see the Lord, to work in a way that is pleasing Him, and to be at peace in my true home, the new place that God is preparing for His people.
When Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that “we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” we are forced to reconcile with the fact that what we’re made for, we do not yet know. God has transformed us into a new creation, and we belong to this broken world no more. Instead we belong to God’s Kingdom. As Peter says it, “according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” We await a new creation, a place in which righteousness lives. A place where we live perfectly with the Lord without the stain of sin.
We work hard in the soil God has given us, expectant that growth and harvest will come, and if new shoots don’t spring up, we can easily feel discouraged. On this earth, we’re working to the best of our ability, and it’s not a wrong desire to see green sprout up in a wasteland. It isn’t wrong for us to desire our work to be fruitful. If you’re staring at your cut-up hands and the barren ground beneath you, perhaps you’re not dissatisfied in the work or the environment. Maybe we’re all just struggling in vocations that are but mere shadows of what is to come.
Our roots can only sink so far into this earth. Our longings can only be satisfied so much by the world. What we need doesn’t exist here. What we long for is yet to come. We await the glorious day that we see our Savior face to face, tilling ground easily, completely at rest in the perfection of the New Earth that God is making for us.
I may feel like a splinter today, I may feel like this world is rejecting me. But I must continue to work, continue to be faithful, knowing that my deepest longings will one day be satisfied by seeing Christ’s face. Don’t confuse our longing for God and true home for unhappiness. Be on guard against the ravaging voles of discontentment, but don’t be surprised when you find yourself simply longing for more. Longing for what we’re made for.