I had quite the evening last week.
On my train journey back from work I fell into my usual day dream like state. I was on auto pilot as upon my reaching Waterloo I disembarked and made my way to the bus stop outside.
Something was wrong.
To my horror, I realised that my suitcase full of important and expensive electrical equipment was still on the train.
Realising my aberration, and uttering words I shouldn’t have, I ran back to the platforms. Like a first rate Jack Bauer type character I scoured the trains where it might have been left, perhaps the one I was on was still there! It probably wasn’t, and the suitcase was nowhere to be seen.
I hatched a plan which I won’t bore you with here. Suffice to say that the next few minutes involved a lot of very fervent praying as I travelled back to my Se17 flat.
Full of adrenaline, I downed some Coke Zero (on offer at my local Morrisons), prayed some more fervent prayers and made my way back to Waterloo. My thinking was that the train I was originally on might be on its way back – with my suitcase.
If the train had indeed made its way back then my suitcase wasn’t on it. Some guards had informed me that a cleaner might have put it inside a metal red shed type thing where the cleaners and guards sit and have their breaks. I checked what I thought to be the only one of these and alas my suitcase was not there.
More time passed as like a sniffer dog I paced more trains. Resigned to the fact I would have to come back to the lost property office in the morning, I came upon another red shed.
And there it was!
There are no doubt a number of lessons to be learned from this episode. Don’t leave your suitcase on the train being one.
Another thing did strike me though.
I hinted at it earlier – prayer, and in particular fervency in prayer.
What do we long for in our hearts, really, if we’re honest? The apostle Paul in his prayers is instructive here. He basically longs for things that can be classified under the Great Commission. That people might be saved and become disciples of Jesus (Romans, 10:1, Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21, Colossians 1:9-14, Romans 1:11.)
While I may desire souls to be won for Christ and a growth in maturity (both in myself and others) do I really long for these as much as I should? Do I long for my next door neighbour to be saved more than my suitcase to be found? On the basis of yesterday the answer might not be as obvious as it should be.
Of course, there is some complexity to this. I know that matters of salvation and maturity are infinitely more important than my suitcase, and I know this (to some extent) deep down when I pray. Nonetheless, I would love to have as much urgency in my prayers for my lost neighbours, friends and family as I had for my lost suitcase!
And this isn’t necessarily about feelings or whipping up fake emotion. No, the urgency discussed here goes deeper. Even if we’re not in an especially good mood, or going through suffering or hardships, it is possible to desire the things Paul, the other apostles and Jesus longed for.
The good news is that God in his abundant grace, despite our ongoing sin, is able to change our hearts to be more like his. Better still, the change that he has already begun will be completed at the second coming of Jesus – our desires and God’s will be completely aligned!
In this light, l can keep praying, fool that I am, for God to continue to change the desires and longings of my heart. We have a father who loves to give us good things! (Matthew 7:11).
I can pray also that he’ll help me love the Gospel more, and know how richly in Christ I’ve been blessed. For if I become aware of this, I’m confident my longings for the lost and my brothers and sisters will increase.