Palouse Falls, Washington – February 2020
Recently, I was privileged to conduct spiritual direction sessions with a seminary student. I’ll call this remarkable young man—a member of the Millennial generation—Luke.
Categorizing generations isn’t a science, and statistics vary, but generally speaking, the Millennial generation includes those born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s. They are by far the largest in population, having overtaken the massive Baby Boomer generation by more than 20 million.
Luke is very intelligent. He was well educated at a prestigious higher education institution. He’s a leader and accomplished on many levels. Yet, as is characteristic of many Millennials I have met, he yearns from a profound place for greater spiritual depth, breadth and meaning. A combination of these factors and desires led Luke to further his education at seminary.
The process of spiritual direction is designed to include questions leading the directee to search prayerfully and inwardly for divine answers and insights. One question for Luke was: “How would you like to experience God?”
This young man told me he doesn’t have problems being disciplined in spiritual practices such as Bible study, reading books written by godly authors, journaling and praying. But, he said, he would like to feel eager to spend time with God rather than doing so because it’s the right thing to do. He longs for a sense of God’s deep presence. He’d love to experience the marvelous, mysterious, miraculous.
I could relate to Luke’s longing because it’s also mine. It was also probably the psalmist’s longing as recorded in Psalms 42:1 & 2
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…
I’ve thought a lot about my real and raw conversations with Luke as well as my likeminded desire to experience more of an amazing, big, ginormous God.
Judah Smith, a well-known Millennial pastor in the Pacific Northwest, suggests:
“Yield your ambitions and dreams and desires to God. That is a safe place and a sane place. Let him be God. It’s his job, and he’s really good at it.”
A juxtaposition between perseverance in spiritual disciplines and leaving our spirits open to the mysteries of God can feel confusing. I am certainly no authority on this, but it seems there are times in our journeys of faith, as well as variations in our God-given spiritual desires, that cause ebb and flow.
There will be times of education, formal or informal, when gathering credible information is essential, ensuring we are equipped to do what Paul advised his protege Timothy,
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV)
Sometimes, the Spirit calls us to show up and “do.”
Then, there are other times when even though we are faithful in spiritual disciplines, there’s a restlessness for “more.” With the psalmist we yearn for what was described as Deep calling to deep… (Psalms 42:7)
Sometimes, the Spirit calls us to quiet down and “be.”
I thank God for the richness of moments that may feel mundane, when I persevere in doing the work needed for the Spirit to prepare me with knowledge and wisdom.
Equally, I thank God for those marvelous moments that seem divinely-tailor-made for my soul. My personal experience is these moments, though rare, leave an indelible imprint and always a deeper desire to know God more fully and to serve God more faithfully.
God of the Mundane and the Marvelous:
Thank you for giving us minds able to learn.
Thank you for implanting your desires into the hearts of your children.
Help me to be faithful in spiritual disciplines, and
To never lose the desire for MORE of your mysterious magnificence!
- How’s Your Soul? Why Everything that Matters Starts with the Inside You, Judah Smith, 2006, Chapter 6 – A Quiet Soul ↑d