Have you ever had an itch in the middle of your back that is just beyond your reach? When this happens, a strategically placed hairbrush can work wonders. Scraping up against a nice sharp corner where two walls meet can bring relief, too (think Baloo the Bear in the Jungle Book). The best solution, by far, is to enlist the help of someone else who will scratch your tormented skin, in just the right place, until your whole body relaxes in one great big sigh.
But then there is that other kind of itch where no amount of scratching brings gratification. I call this the phantom spot. It originates from somewhere much deeper than the surface of the epidermis. Nothing satisfies the nagging signals it sends to the brain. The only options are to rub your skin raw or ignore the discomfort until it goes away.
Our walk on this earth can be like that, too.
Itchy spirits needing relief.
The world is quick to tell us to pursue the desires of our lives: If we desire it we should have it. Bigger, newer, better, more. This message pervades every area of our lives: work, education, food, shelter, transportation, clothing, family, and relationships. And don’t forget success, status, power, and financial affluence, too.
These are not bad things, in and of themselves. Many of them are necessary and they can be good for us and used by God to bring glory to Himself. However any satisfaction they bring is only temporal because none of it addresses the deep itch that plagues our spirits.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis
For those who call Jesus, Lord, we commit to a lifelong journey of submitting our desires to God and seeking His will for our lives. We live as strangers in this land because it is not our home. (Hebrews 11:13-16) Worship, fellowship, ministry, prayer, study, journaling, and fasting – these are some of the ways we ease our discomfort but even this relief only goes so deep.
Sooner or later, those who follow after Christ become attuned to a yearning and a nagging which nothing on this earth can assuage. The first time you experience it, it catches you off-guard and throws you for a loop. You may even find yourself wondering how you can be so in love with Christ and yet so desirous of something you can’t even put into words. There is nothing phantom about it. This is how God intended it to be. He is the One who put that desire in you.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
Did you catch that? “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.”
The essence of eternity is inside you and me.
Is it any wonder our restlessness runs so deep? Even if we’re unaware of it, our desire for our intended future is always with us. We were created to gather around the throne and worship God and His Son. (Revelation 5) And until we do so, we will never be completely satiated.
So for now we may ignore our desire or attempt to pacify it with worldly things. Or we may acknowledge it, bending the knee and burying ourselves in His Word; letting it drive us closer to Him. But at the end of the day, we are all, still, itchy spirits needing relief.
Because I’ve come to realize and, accept, that this is one itch that won’t be scratched this side of eternity.