For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. Philippians 1:21-23

We all have a desire or longing for something or perhaps someone. Often, we have a desire to go back to the way things were, back to times when our chapels were crowded, when we longed to hear God’s word. There is a deep desire and longing for the familiar, for what life should really be like. A desire that stirs deep emotions in our hearts every time we think of it.

We may read of the wonderful times of blessing enjoyed by our heroes, Howel Harris or John Pugh; when many came to know Christ as their Saviour and long that we might have been there.

In the Bible we find a similar longing or desire but not to go back to what things were, the ‘good old days’ but to go on to a place prepared for us by the Lord Jesus. The only place that can satisfy our every desire. These verses tell us something of Paul’s true desires, it’s like a hiraeth for heaven, to take up his true citizenship. It is a place he longs for knowing what is waiting for him there. It isn’t so much the place as the person who is there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you desire, to go back to the past and live in memories or to look forward to what God has promised to those who love Him, ‘the hope of His calling, … the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.’ Ephesians 1:18


We are looking at the idea of longing or yearning, particularly longing for heaven. The psalmist often expresses his desires, longings or yearnings particularly when under pressure.

As you read this psalms try to focus on what the psalmist longs for.

Where does the psalmist find himself? What caused it, and do we find ourselves in similar positions?

What does he long for? How strong do you think his longings are? Make a list of the things he longs for, compare your longings with those of the psalmist. What are you truly longing for?

Psalm 42

For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    ‘Where is your God?’
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon – from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me –
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    ‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?’
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    ‘Where is your God?’

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Saviour and my God.


A Hymn

This hymn by William Williams seems to express a longing for things this world cannot give.

Dear Jesus, come, my soul doth groan
For nought but for Thyself alone,
Thou art the pearl of price;
For Thee I’d part with all below,
And every hardship undergo,
Beneath the vaulted skies.

Thy presence can without delay,
Drive all my numerous cares away,
As chaff before the wind;
Compose my thoughts to adore and love
Thee, as an object far above,
To Thee alone inclined.

Release me from the heavy chain,
Guilt, sin and shame, which still remain
To bind me hand and foot;
O, glorious Conqueror, enter in,
Cast out my foes, destroy my sin,
Both branch and spreading root.

Give me that knowledge pure, divine,
To know and feel that Thou art mine,
And Thee my portion call;
That doubts and fears may flee away,
And faith unfeigned win the day,
And triumph over all. 


Today we turn to a prayer by Augustine of Hippo 354-430AD
Nothing But You – St Augustine

Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know You,
And desire nothing but You.
Let me forget myself and love You.
Let me do everything for the sake of You.
Let me humble myself and exalt You.
Let me think nothing except You.
Let me die to myself and live in You.
Let me accept whatever happens as from You.
Let me banish self and follow You,
and always desire to follow You.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in You,
that I may deserve to be defended by You.
Let me fear for myself, let me fear You,
and let me be among those who are chosen by You.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in You.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of You.
Let me cling to nothing save only to You,
and let me be poor because of You.
Look upon me, that I may love You.
Call me that I may see You,
And forever have joy in You.


Howell Harris was a man who brought the gospel to Wales. He was converted in 1735 In the early 1770s his health began to decline, but as his outer man perished his inner man was renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16). His faith remained vibrant to the end. During his last sickness he wrote these words:

‘I must have the Saviour, for He is my all. All that others have, in the world, in religion and in themselves, I have in Thee. Pleasures, riches, safety, honour, life, righteousness, holiness, wisdom, bliss, joy, and happiness; and by the same rule that each of these is dear to others, He must be dear to me. And as a child longs for his father; a traveller, for the end of his journey; a workman, to finish his work; a prisoner, for his liberty; an heir, for the full possession of his estate; so, in all these respects, I can’t help longing to go home.’

And go home he did, at sixty years of age on July 21, 1773, testifying through all of his final sufferings his great love and concern for his flock and his great confidence and trust in the gracious God who had saved him nearly forty years before.