I realize we’re all past the initial excitement of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but there’s a line in the movie that I just can’t stop thinking about. It was a line that literally caught my breath in my throat and produced an audible noise! When I experience something like this, there’s only one logical thing to do…write about it.
The line was spoken by Maz Kanata, a female pirate who is over a thousand years old; whose age old wisdom shows through in a short conversation with Rey. Assuming every reader has seen this movie, I’m sure you remember the scene. Rey had stumbled into a chamber and opened a chest only to find a light saber belonging to none other than Luke Skywalker. Rey touched the saber and instantly had visions that appeared to be from her childhood. Maz Kanata approached Rey and told her, “The longing you seek is not behind you, it is in front of you.”
Maz Kanata was referring to Rey wanting to return to Jakkul, where she had waited for years – and desired to continue waiting – for her family to return for her. She longed for her family, she longed to belong. Maz Kanata gave us a large dose of foreshadowing by saying, “The longing you seek is not behind you, it is in front of you.” But, these words did more than provide foreshadowing; they pricked my heart and made me think. What do I long for? What do I long for that isn’t behind me, but in front of me?
I took to social media and publicly asked for a response to this simple question, “What do you long for?” Here are some of the answers I received.
- Peace (world peace, personal peace, political peace, racial peace)
- Relational reconciliation
- Spiritual restoration
- Pain relief
- Mental and emotional stability
- Being needed
- Being wanted
- Being enough
I wasn’t surprised by these answers; in fact, I expected them, which may mean that deep down I long for each and every one of these myself. But, what did surprise me is that encouragement came from a fictional character in a sci-fi movie.
The longing that you seek isn’t behind you; it’s in front of you.
When we focus on the things we long for, we tend to focus on the past, on the moments that caused the longing in the first place. We focus on the death of a loved one, the removal of a loved one or the leaving of a loved one. We focus on the moment we became a victim or the moment we turned from the truth. We remember life before chronic pain, before depression, before anxiety. We remember the moment we were made to feel small and inadequate and we welcome each new day hoping to go back to that place, the place behind us, the time before.
But living in the past, living for the memory of life before the longing only adds to the depth of the longing. We must look ahead. We must focus on the yet to come. We must remind ourselves that the longing we seek is not behind us, it is in front of us.
For the child of God, we know what’s to come. We know what’s in front of us and we can look ahead with confidence. Being in the presence of our Lord will be more fulfilling that we can even imagine. Psalm 107:9 tells us, “He satisfies the longing soul.” In Heaven, we will have more family than we know what to do with. There will be unimaginable peace, there will be no physical pain and there will be no heartache, even for those of us who long for spiritual restoration among those we love. I don’t expect everyone I love to be in Heaven, but I do expect my Lord to wipe away my tears. Though it’s hard to imagine, I expect His glory to fill the void of the loved ones who aren’t present. I expect His glory to fill every void. Every. Last. Void.
Revelation 21:4 tells us that He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. I don’t understand it, I can’t comprehend it. But I believe it.
The things we long for are in front of us; we must wait. And while there is darkness in the waiting, the light of the world is coming. John 14:2-4 says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Although our longings have many names, Jesus is what we long for. And the satisfaction he offers our longing souls is in front of us, not behind us.