Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. – The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis.
This year we’ve been re-introduced to a particularly lovely little character named Dory. Dory is a blue fish with beaming eyes, full of life and energy. Throughout two movies, she bounces around (as much as a fish can bounce I guess) from thing to thing with excitement, trying her hardest to help Nemo find his way and then trying to find her parents. In each movie, she and Nemo know where they need to go (at least somewhat), but they don’t know how exactly to get there.
Maybe it’s a bad comparison, but I think a lot of Christian millennials, like me, are similar to Dory and Nemo on their journey. We finish college, move to a new place, full of dreams and ambitions, knowing we want to serve Christ and impact this world in incredible ways, but we have no idea in what direction to go. The truth is, most of our major questions remain unanswered. “Where should I work?” “Where should I live?” “Who should I date?” Day after day, the fleeces we lay out stay completely dry.
At times, this is frustrating. In fact, decision-making in general is frustrating, and something my generation hates to do. We like options, flexibility, and being told to “follow the yellow brick road.” The problem is the “yellow brick road” does not exist. I am not Dorothy, and neither is anyone else. Life is not a clear, set path, laid out before us to idly glide down. Instead, God leads us through uncharted wilderness—with valleys and mountains, streams and oceans—forcing us to make decisions, thrive and sometimes break, and sit at His feet asking for guidance.
Life is an adventure, not a track, and God uses this life to wonderfully restructure our desires. This is why I could not keep from sharing the C.S. Lewis quote above. You see, even as believers, we spend a lot of time “playing in the mud.” We want good things, but maybe for the wrong reasons. We feel callings and yearnings, but don’t know how to walk in those as believers living for the Kingdom. We want to serve Christ, but find ourselves distracted over and over again by lesser things. God uses the constant uncertainty of life to transform our innate desire to “play in the mud.” As we work, build families, lose loved ones, God continually shows us the incomparable nature of what it means to walk and live with Him—to live and glorify Christ wherever we may find ourselves.
A few months ago, I had the chance to hear a college professor speak about his work in unveiling ancient texts through digital imaging. Dr. Brent Seals, from the University of Kentucky, came to Washington to show some of the amazing things he has accomplished in unveiling the texts of burned and damaged works, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. At the same time, he spoke about living in his calling as a Computer Science professor and a Christian. Seeing the unbelievable work Dr. Seals is doing and hearing about the journey the Lord has taken him on to get there was beyond encouraging. Particularly reassuring was his reminder that a calling is not some place we end up, but the life-long journey on which God leads us, despite our anxious souls.
Deep relationships, challenging jobs, stressful schedules—these are the ordinary foundations of life as a young millennial. In other words, we’re Martha, not Mary. But beyond the external blessings and struggles we face each week, there is a slow and permeating work going on internally. This re-shaping is the key to a life lived walking with God through the wilderness. To actually feel and sense the changing nature of how we think and approach vocation; to begin asking the difficult questions about how to serve a broken and hurting world; to start “singing the truest truths of the universe in a language the whole world can understand”—these are just some of the internal things we must wrestle through as we grow and mature. God’s work in reinvigorating our desires for Him and being a part of accomplishing His work in the world, there truly is no comparable joy.
Ryan Burns works in government affairs and is a graduate of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.