C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, suggests that we are a people of deep and unending desire. He further states that our unending quest for satisfaction reveals a deeper and often confounding truth about what it means to be human!
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”
We are a people of deep desire. We find, unfortunately, that our desires often remain unfulfilled. It seems we are an ever longing and always wanting people.
The shopping saturated Christmas season is one of our most prolific expressions of this reality.
After all, our calling, vocation or mission in life is often tied tightly to doing something.
In fact, when you ask someone about calling or personal mission, they will likely list off a host of things they are doing.
Ruth Haley Barton notes our rampant confusion regarding calling when she says,
“We set young leaders up for a fall if we encourage them to envision what they can do before they consider the kind of person they should be.” —Ruth Haley Barton
In the church, where we should know better, this misapprehension of calling takes on cosmic proportions. Primarily because we spiritualize everything and thereby make it far more urgent than callings in other areas of life.
Here, for example, is a personal vision statement I lived by as recently as ten years ago.
The Story of a Church, Pt. 2: Discovering a Fairly “New” Thing!
When our Pillar family began this journey back in 2011, congregational resources related to spiritual formation and soul-care were scarce. Further, communities attempting to practice a similar way of life were few and far between.
We quite literally felt like an island unto ourselves.
I searched high and low for resources of all types – both people and places – that I could rely on or to whom I could turn for companionship. Now and then someone or someplace caught my eye.
I excitedly jumped on the web, read the book, or made a call to the church, only to find that spiritual formation was just another program they were offering as one option among many. In short, it was an extracurricular activity but not part of the DNA of the congregation.
And, while, that was appropriate for those congregations, Pillar Community began with Spiritual Formation as the singular focus and heartbeat of our mission and strategy.
Our culture is, perhaps, the most distracted and disengaged culture in human history.
New York Times Journalist, Tony Schwartz, recently noticed how distracted he’s become when trying to read a book – something an award-winning Journalist and author ought to be able to do with ease. Upon reflection, he realized that unread books were piling up in his home: mocking him, rebuking him, as they lay silently – untouched – on the bedside table. In an insightful article, he writes:
“Instead of reading them, I was spending too many hours online, checking the traffic numbers for my company’s website, shopping for more colorful socks on Gilt and Rue La La, even thought I had more than I needed, and even guiltily clicking through pictures with irresistible headlines.”
Schwartz’s honesty is as refreshing as it is convicting.
No doubt we all, in more honest moments, can make a similar confession, saying, “yes, I spend too much time online. I’ve become habitually distracted.”