For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established-- that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (Romans 01:11-12, NKJV).
One of the most powerful human emotions in existence is longing. It can be described as the soul-deep, poignant (tinged with sadness and regret) desire for something that is heartbreakingly out of reach, like the company of a loved one who has died.
Or the missing of a child who has been taken away or is no longer present.
It is a powerful human emotion because it is a powerful divine emotion, for we are made in the image of God in the realm of emotions perhaps most of all. We are emotional beings because He is. We love because He is love.
We long for the company of those we love because He does, and it is that depth of feeling that the Apostle Paul expresses here, bearing his deepest thoughts so that the recipients of this marvelous letter can know the depths of his love for them; and by extension, the depth of God's love for them (and us), as well.
For our Heavenly Father longs for our company and fellowship, as amazing and incomprehensible as that may seem. He created us for His good pleasure, the Bible tells us, and He desires for us to be with Him.
That is why Jesus came to die so horribly on the Cross for our sins, so that afterwards, where He is, there we may be also... forever.
As your earthly father, I understand a bit more of this godly longing for your presence than I ever could before God gifted me with you and your sisters, and I have a far greater appreciation and depth of astonishment for how God expresses His love for us.
Think of it!
He who made all things and has all power and majesty and honor and glory is not satisfied until we miserable sinners are members of His family. To make that possible, He sent His Son to cleanse us and make us worthy of existence in Heaven; to transform us from our lowly earthly selves into creatures fit for an eternity in His presence in the new Heavens and new Earth.
It is impossible not to be utterly amazed at that truth if viewed in the light and clarity of Scripture.
There is something about us that God will not do without.
I cannot say with authority what that thing is, but I can with absolute assurance tell you that the Father sees us as a great and special treasure, a pearl beyond price, and as worthy inheritors of all the blessings that are His to bestow. And since He is God, He can (and will) give to us irrevocably (without possibility of loss), and for all eternity, all that is just and good and lovely and pure and joyful.
This is true not because of who we are, but because of who He is, and because of what we are in Jesus, His Son. The Apostle Paul affirms repeatedly in His Holy Spirit-inspired writings that for us to be recipients of God's grace and mercy, to enable Him to fulfill His longing for us, we must be transformed.
He must change us from sinners into saints.
We are completely helpless in this regard. There is no amount of good things that we could do to make us worthy of Him, for it is in our inherent nature (part of our essential make up) to sin, and God cannot abide nor look upon sin.
Yet, His longing for us has provided a means to overcome that helplessness and to take away our sin, but only at that great price of the death of His Son in our place.
Jesus sacrificed Himself to enable us to be with Him, not as sinners in the hands of an angry God, but as beloved members of God's family.
There is something indescribably noble and heroic about Christ's willingness to pay the price of our sin; for He who knew no sin to become sin for us so that we could become His righteousness.
In that one act of filial (family) obedience to the Father, He has brought us to God as a gift that satisfies the divine longing for our fellowship.
Unlike our own human longing, which is tainted by our selfish sinful nature no matter how pure we may think it to be, God's longing is solely for our good. He desires for us to be with Him, not because He needs us, but because we need Him.
And that is the motive behind Paul's expression of longing in the focus verses above. His longing for the believers in Rome was for their benefit.
We will look at what he specifically desired to give them in the next study. For now, just reflect upon the wondrous truth that God's longing for us is so powerful that He sent His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.