Florence Nightingale, the famous British nurse, wrote on her 30th birthday in her diary the following words: “I have reached the age of 30. That was the age at which Jesus started his ministry. Therefore, starting today I do no longer wish to occupy myself with trivial matters. I only want to do Thy will, O God.” When they asked her at the end of her life what was the secret of her life that had given her the power to perform such wonderful deeds she answered simply, “I love God dearly and I gave Him everything. I have not withheld anything from God.
A heart that is filled with warmth and a sincere love for God cannot truly be happy in this shallow world with its superficial values. What is important to the world seems to be diametrically opposed to what God thinks is important. The world believes in power, might, influence and possession, but God’s Spirit leads us to other values. God thinks much of humility, meekness and brokenness.
As a result, a child of God will never be fully at home in this present world. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hates you”? We are on a mission to another world.
This world is not my home; I’m just a-passin’ through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
But think about it. In essence, no one was made for this world full of sadness and pain, including those who have no faith at all. Deep inside every human heart is a secret longing to return to paradise lost. Only children of God recognise that longing as the voice of God calling them home, but that secret longing is present in every human being, including in the greatest atheist around.
It is why the Scriptures say, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”*
Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft calls it the heavenly nightingale that sings deep within each human heart. Its mission is to constantly remind us that our true home is not this carnal world. It is why no pleasure on earth completely satisfies us.
That song is guiding us to our true home, which is the dwelling place of our Creator.
If we pay attention to our nightingale we will hear his heavenly tune better and the way becomes clearer.
Sadly, this world is on a different mission and is doing its utmost to drown the song out by a myriad of other sounds, voices and distractions. And the world is good at its job. The world’s power to distract us and to drown out our heavenly nightingale is not to be underestimated and the world often succeeds. Not only in the lives of those who do not know God, but even in the hearts of God’s children, as we too can be distracted so we put the emphasis on trivial matters that promise us the world, but will leave us empty and dry.
But even though the song of the heavenly nightingale may not always be clearly heard, the bird itself can never be killed for it is the spiritual power of God and will always keep singing. Even in the hearts of those who have rejected Christ, the nightingale is still singing. Even in those who are rich and famous, wealthy and proud, the song is still present. Millions of voices cannot fully drown out the source of living water, deep within each man’s heart. There is always an incomprehensible sense of longing for something better; something that will truly satisfy.
Man was not made for this worldly environment. Man was created for paradise and thus it is impossible to be truly happy in this carnal world. Just as a fish will never be truly happy unless he is surrounded by water or a bird unless it can soar through the skies, man can only be truly happy when surrounded by God.
Do we then have to completely withdraw from this world and join one of those religious orders in order to fully devote our lives to God and flee the world?
Of course not. At least, not unless you personally feel called to do so. We live in this present day world and have a body that can only be satisfied with the things of this earth and as such we have worldly needs. But it does happen that we get distracted and have our priorities mixed up and we end up feeding our bodies and starving our souls.
What we need to do is to continually cleanse our hearts and make room for the heavenly nightingale. Our body is the temple of God. He lives there and He wants to live in a heavenly environment.
We are not talking about rules and regulations, but about a sincere desire to live in harmony with the will of God for our lives and that almost always means a rejection of the world.
Nobody said that would be easy. It’s called the good fight of faith by the Apostle Paul. If we don’t fight that fight of faith, we only follow the wishes of the carnal and we are not taking conscious steps to have our priorities straight and a deep spiritual emptiness will be the result.
Help me to remember Lord that it is always about You. You are the center and when I am not holding on to you, I am off-center. Please give me the strength to listen to Your music and to hold on to You, so others may see You, reflected in me.
*Romans 8:22-23 KJV