Longing for the New City

Photo by Ben Constable

Photo by Ben Constable

I’m a lone wolf.

For those of you who know me well, you may be surprised by this statement. It’s pretty obvious that I’m an extreme extrovert who constantly surrounds himself with others. However, since the program began in September, I have come to see within myself some “lone wolf” tendencies—seeing someone who walks to his own beat, doesn’t always go with the flow, and is prone to wanderlust. To be honest, I think that all of us have “lone wolf” tendencies. I’ve seen that in times of stress and of being stretched, we all can have the tendency to withdraw, become bitter about our circumstances, and attempt to ‘right the ship’ with our own compass.

This restlessness and discontentment that sends us wandering is grounded in a deeper longing for a home, a haven, a place of rest, I believe—a place where we experience true belonging and peace. In Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, this ‘home’ that we desire is further described as “the place of light, the place of truth, the place of love…beyond earning, deserving, and rewarding. It is the place of surrender and complete trust” (13).          

However, Nouwen immediately throws a caveat into his definition: “It is the place where I will receive all I desire, all that I ever hoped for, all that I will ever need, but it is also the place where I have to let go of all I most want to hold on to.” BOOM.

We can’t find this rest unless we can peel our fingers, one-by-one, off of all of the things that we have here on Earth that bring us comfort, hope, and temporary rest. And that is downright impossible on your own and apart from God, let me tell you. But God knows us intimately—He knows what we need. He knows who we really are. He sees the intimate depths of our souls. He wants to help us destroy idols, these things that we cling to that are not Him, in our lives. And this letting go of things that do not satisfy is a painful and extensive project.

However, rather than getting numb and calloused, I see our group of Fellows thriving and turning from our idols effectively here in Charlottesville, where encouragement, support systems, and space to rest exist and provide the opportunity to self-examine and honestly evaluate without dropping into despair. And when we have the freedom and space to do the dirty work in offering our hearts up for refinement to the One who can make them brand new, the riches promised to us in Christ will reign supreme over the empty offerings of the idols that vie for our attention!

To engage in this battle, we must not come in defeated, but rather, dependent—dependent on a merciful and beautiful and gracious God who wants us and our hearts. We must be reliant on the atoning sacrifice of a Savior who didn’t back down when temptations and idols were cast his direction. We long for a home where we can find full victory over the things of this world that want to smother humanity in seduction and empty promises. In John 14, Jesus tells us,

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 to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you for myself, there where I am you may be also. (John 14:2-3).

What a promise! We will have a home, a perfect, restored, enduring home with our maker that was prepared for us and is intended to display and embody ultimate and lasting rest and victory! We will live in the New City, perfectly redeemed and re-created for all eternity. It is my prayer for myself and for all of us that we will hear this promise from the Lord, and have it resonate loudly in our lives this coming year—and for our whole lifetimes! When we do, I think our response will be a lot like the Psalmist, when he says in the fourth psalm,

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:7-8).

Joy and peace and rest and abundance and safety lie in the House of the Lord. These are good gifts that the Lord loves to give and lavish upon us. Here’s to a year where we meditate on His promises, rest in His rock solid truths, and hope in the safety and security supplied to us by the Alpha and the Omega!


While in college, Ben primarily spent his time investing in InterVarsity, serving as a liaison between students and  employers at the College of William & Mary Career Center, and spearheading the College’s ESL teaching connection with the youth of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. During his time in Sarajevo, Ben and his team hosted an English-language immersion day camp

for children ages 3–15, in which they promoted themes of reconciliation and non-violent communication. Ben spent two summers serving as a counselor at Summer’s Best Two Weeks sports camp, where he had the opportunity to teach, facilitate, coach, encourage, and empower young children, and lead overnight outdoors trips. Ben hopes to put his analytical, social, and leadership abilities to use in a research or non-profit setting, and to continue to work extensively with youth.