Monday, October 03, 2005

Hiraeth

I came across the Welsh word, hiraeth, while reading Iain Murray’s 2 volume biography of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The books were borrowed, (from my pastor, no less) so I resisted the temptation to mark up the book with comments and underlines, asterisks and exclamation points, as is my habit. Instead, I read the book with a pad of post it notes at hand and scrawled my thoughts down and plastered them on the pages of the books as I went along. This proved to be an unsatisfactory method of recording my observations, but I did keep the ones that caused me to think and pray. I will be posting more of these as time goes on.

As the quotation from Lloyd-Jones says, hiraeth means “the consciousness of man being out of his home area and that which is dear to him. . .like a Christian yearning for heaven.” C. S. Lewis describes the same idea in this way: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

The longing heart is, I believe, an intrinsic aspect of the Christian life. It was certainly evident in the life and the writings of the Apostle Paul:

Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I hope to be able to spend some time over the next days and weeks developing this theme of the longing of the Christian heart.

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