I cannot forget those immortal moments when I got soaked in the pouring rains of the Indian monsoon. I was on my way home from my high school. The roads were flooded; here and there rivulets of water washed up dried leaves, cola cans, and dirt mounds, and the sidewalks looked clean and neat. Pretty excited I ran in the puddles splashing water all over my body. I looked above and the sky seemed to pour more water on my face drenching me into a feverish thrill.

My school bag, wet and dripping, hung heavy on my shoulders. My shoes were waterlogged and wading in the knee-deep rainwater seemed ethereal. It’s a fleeting thrill that any young boy or girl would experience when it rains. At least in my hometown, you could see kids playing around merrily in the muddied rainwaters. Ah, that was not the end of my happy moments, the smell of the red-wet earth wafted in the air kindling in me a strange sense of pleasure. It was de ja vu. It was nostalgic. I didn’t know when I had experienced that feeling in the past. But it was nostalgia unknown.

The smell of the wet earth was to me far more aromatic than any perfume. Did you ever get to smell a rain sodden earth? Nature’s smell sometimes stirs deep longings in the heart. It seems to suddenly unfold a dream that was waiting to happen really. Inhaling the entrancing earth smell provided me a wondrous backdrop to reminisce the many joyous moments of my life. I thought of the friend who smiled at me in the school. It gladdened my heart. At school I wanted everyone to love me whether they liked me or not. I dreaded being ignored. My heart couldn’t take it. However, today, my mind was recapturing the smile of a friend at school. Then, I thought of my mother who tended to my drenched body. She would hurriedly fix me a steaming cup of hot Indian tea. I thought of my father’s kind eyes. Although my mom would berate me for getting soaked in the water, my dad would just find towels to get me dry. They were little acts of kindness but they added to my happiness.

I thought of all that was good and glorious. It made me happy. The smell of the soil had worked wonders in my whacked out life. The pouring monsoon showers rejuvenated my imaginations. The more my mind dwelt on what made me happy, the more I wanted those moments to linger on. I felt inconsolable when images of immortal happy moments seemed to get washed away in the driving waters. Why was I so happy? What was I dreaming about when the waters drenched my body? What was the thrill that wouldn’t let me go? I was made from earth, and I knew, to earth my body would return. The earth seemed to me my familiar friend from, which I was made and to which my body was destined to return.

But the nostalgia, the longing for the unknown joy was too much to bear. And I would cry that I might have it again. But when the summer came it seemed brutal, the red-wet earth would turn into burning cakes of sand. It flashed my mind that my nostalgia, the longing for joy, the incessant craving for the happy moments, arose from the depth of my heart. It arose from my spirit. It had to do from my innermost being. The pleasure had to be from somewhere, better yet from someone who had created this longing in me. This longing is real, ineffable and intangible. It calls us. It wakes us up. It surprises us. You never go too far in life where you never long too much. The seasons of life only augment the intensity of the longing.

Talking about death, Victor Hugo writes, “The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies which invite me.” It’s a familiar symphony that haunts us unaware. While the fleeting experience of monsoon would vanish the incessant desire of finding my life’s joy would ever haunt. It had to be only God who could satisfy my yearning than anyone. Absence of God only makes the longing painful. Nothing else fills. Only God was big enough to fill my longing. Apart from Him I am always inconsolable. I cry without God. I am lost without God. I love Him. I desire His consolation. When was the last time you desired God? Haven’t you experienced those moments of dryness in your life? You think you are full but you are empty. You think you are flourishing but you are actually drying up. You realize you are drained, alone and unhappy. Even though you pray, fast, sing, attend church, read Bible, go to mission fields and do the right thing, yet there is a haunting loneliness and dryness that pervades your life. Even when the sensual enjoyments reach their peak, they secede soon. They vaporize like mists in high noon. And the heart cries again. Does this portray your life?

Have you ever felt like this before? Maybe you are going through these moments right now as you are holding this book in your hands? You are not sure you want to read this book? Yet another book on spirituality! Will I ever find the life I am dreaming about? The life that haunts me, and yet eludes me. The life that Jesus talked about—the abundant life! Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

We all have our own life, our own little life that we live everyday. Some live a quarter life, some a half-life, and many others live like they are really dead. The most miserable life is to simply exist not knowing why one is living for. Many are lost for real life and are in search of a life beyond their everyday existence. Only a few have discovered the abundant life. The life that swells with joy, the life that is beyond existence. One of the most devastating experiences of a Christian is to be a Christian and still not experience Jesus to be ‘the delight of his or her life’. Christian thinker C.S.Lewis describes the situation very aptly, “We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory) We are far too easily pleased with what we are doing in the now. We have no clue of the infinite joy that is offered to us in Jesus.
 
We have been looking for joy elsewhere and finding it nowhere. We have heard sermon after sermons on how to mature in our Christian walk. We feed on tapes, CDs and TVs for more of our Christian enrichment and yet still the longing for authentic intimacy with Jesus haunts us and we don’t know how to experience it. Very few of us have experienced the abundant life that Jesus promised us in the scriptures. King David, a busy man, ruler of a nation, with all of his wealth, pomp and glory, still finds himself empty and bewails, “…My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” (Psalms 84:2.) King David was a chosen man of God. He met God early on in his life; he encountered a bear and a lion and prevailed over them in the power of God. He even took on the big giant Goliath. So many miraculous experiences, so many encounters, and yet he felt that life wasn’t satisfying without diving deep into intimacy with God. He was panting after God.

He was crying out for more of God. He wanted nothing else but more of God. His heart was restless. His body ached. It was the inner ache of the human spirit that cried out for its Creator. St Augustine too cried that way, “Oh, God our hearts are restless until we find our rest in thee.”

When were the last time you cried wanting God more? I mean not some long, fancy, flowery prayer but deep, passionate, heart rending cry for more of God? A child when lost cries out to her mother. For it knows nothing can substitute the feel of her mother’s lap, nothing can equal the comfort of being cradled by her mother. And so should we, like a child, cry out to God for that’s where our real comfort is. Without the touch and comfort of the presence of Jesus we are but cosmic orphans, waifs of the universe, left alone and abandoned. We all have gone through many religious experiences, done many things for God, been there in that mission field, explored those mission courses, taught Sunday schools, preached in churches, poured over Bible. And yet still the heart feels an inconsolable longing to enter into intimacy with God. Without intimacy with Jesus we will only be religious Christians, professional Christians, more adept in defining Christianity than experiencing Christ.

We all have gone through rough moments. We all go through seasons of search and hunger wanting to know what makes life enjoyable, meaningful and authentic. I remember my seasons, when as a teenager I hungered after love, someone to make me feel complete, someone to whisper in my ears, “I love you”. I wanted to be loved and I wanted to love. As a child I enjoyed the attention of my family members, my aunts, my uncles, my sisters. There was a sense of naivety that made me forget life. I reveled in the feeling that I was the center of everyone’s attention. I wanted to be loved always and never hated. But those years didn’t stay longer. I had to grow up even though I didn’t like. And when you grow up people’s affections are not the same anymore, the younger siblings grab the attention and worse, you might even fade out from other’s minds. People might like you but you never feel loved. You never get to feel that you are wanted. You dread the fact that you are no longer cherished by the ones who once flocked around you. No one gives you a kiss or a hug or a pat on the back.

The seasons of life change but the hungers of the heart grow deep. And my heart hungered for more. Nothing would make me happy except God. For some reasons I spent more time thinking about God than my own school courses. God fascinated me. He drew my attention. My years in school and college flew by like a season of the past. I ran to every Christian meeting to find more of God, was the first to be in outreach programs to revel in the joy of sharing Christ with others. My heart was panting to know more of Jesus and experience His fullness. It was a longing that was inconsolable. Nothing was able to console my longing for my Creator. Just as a child would cry inconsolably to reach her mother’s lap, so are we creatures inconsolable until we climb onto the lap of our heavenly father. The longing for the immortal union with God is real, deep and is never satisfied in earthly pursuits. CS Lewis captures the moment brilliantly when he says, “In speaking of this desire for our own far-off country, . . . I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency.

I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you - the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both . . . Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things - the beauty, the memory of our own past - are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. . . .Here, then, is the desire, still wandering and uncertain of its object and still largely unable to see that object in the direction where it really lies . . . Heaven is, by definition, outside our experience, but all intelligible descriptions must be of things within our experience. The scriptural picture of heaven is therefore just as symbolical as the picture, which our desire, unaided, invents for itself . . . (The Weight of Glory).

When I was an undergrad student in India, I was part of a group that met every Thursday on the college campus for prayer. So many guys and gals would come around and ask us, “What are you all doing instead of having fun?” I wanted to say; sure, we are having fun. But how do I explain to them that believing in God and experiencing God was fun, too? What do you answer to a group of college students whose whole worldview revolves around the most bandied word ‘fun’? How do you explain fun? What is funny to you may not be funny to me. Worse still, what is funny to the other may be hurting to me. Or you. “Have fun?” they chorus, not realizing what fun really means. We few Christians were actually having fun with God. Yes, we were having a jolly good time with God. I happened to meet one of the curious onlookers and began to talk to him during free time. He was in my class studying psychology and literature. I guess he really wanted to know why I was chasing after religious experiences (that’s what he termed our Christian fellowship) instead of reveling in the enjoyments that youth hood brings.

It seemed to him that religion, God and Christianity in particular were a waste of time and that, and they stole away the joys of a human being. I asked him, “Do you know that to enjoy anything in life you first need to have the capacity to enjoy? What if your eyes were blind and that you couldn’t see a sunset to enjoy. What if you were deaf and you couldn’t hear a lovely music? What if you couldn’t speak and you couldn’t enjoy conversations. What do you enjoy in life when the very capacity to enjoy isn’t there anymore? He paused at me, looker around, scratched his head and with a forlorn look walked away. I guess he was pondering over his own observations. As followers of Christ we were all in communion with our Creator who had fashioned the very ‘capacity for enjoyments’ in our body and He the creator was far more enjoyable to us than just the object he created. It’s like talking to Henry Ford who created the Ford cars.

It’s like talking to Isaac Newton who founded the laws of gravity. It’s like chatting up with the poet William Blake who wrote so many poems. And, here we were lost in the awe of one who even created this very feeling of ‘awe’ in us. God was to us the author of all pure pleasure. He was far more fun to us than anything else. What can the world offer in return to the hungers of our human heart? How sad many of us nominal Christians, namesake followers of Christ, church attending Christians, cultural Christians, political Christians have lost in the bargain for a deeper experience of true joy in life. There is an inconsolable longing in all of us. The woman at the well of Samaria had no clue when she came to draw the water what awaited her. She came to the well to satiate a physical longing in the body but upon finding Christ she returned back finding rivers of living water able to satisfy the hungers of body and soul. She went about proclaiming to everyone that Christ the messiah had filled her heart. Her heart was overflowing and she couldn’t contain it. The Bible says in John 4:26, “The woman then left her water pot, and went her way into the city and said to the men: Come see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?” An overflowing heart affects others. A joyful Christian affects others. We are known by the level of joy we possess. What is filling your heart? Like the Samaritan woman we have to come to the end of our life, we have to find ourselves in a state of thirst, having exhausted all, we come away to the well to satiate our thirst and there when we have hit rock bottom, Christ finds us and offers us rivers of living water. He fills our longing

Reuben David