By Amanda Cleary Eastep
About 10 high school students disembark from their “Warriors” mini-bus, like they’re stepping onto a questionably constructed swing bridge over a gaping chasm.
But college visits can feel like that.
I’m watching them through the picture window of my daughter’s university as I wait for her to meet me for coffee.
These visiting students are all kinds of gawky. Hair pushed up on the side of their heads from sleeping against the bus windows; eyes suddenly wide enough to swallow the Chicago campus and half of Lake Michigan; and, I imagine, young Christian hearts pounding with the effort of discerning a sign from God.
Having worked in college marketing for years, I know that at some point in the future, these kids will be accosted by marketing department staff eager for advertising quotes like, “I just knew I was meant to be here!”
I wonder how often I look like they do. Like the kid with the hair lump and breath that probably smells like mouth and last night’s cheese Doritos. The one staring down at the concrete walkway, as if glad for the solidity. He smiles, maybe from nerves or maybe, like most teenagers, he is positive that curious onlookers [or bored mothers] are studying him through the window and judging whether or not he’s a “fit.”
Do I look this unsure when I enter unchartered territory?
…the offices of potential business clients?
…unfamiliar groups and communities?
I can almost guarantee a deer-in-the-headlights expression when I step out in my faith, into unfamiliar spiritual terrain that demands something more of me, that stretches my trust muscles.
When, with a quavering voice, I go all Moses and pray, “show me now thy way, that I may know thee.”
Just before watching that bus full of newbies pull up to the curb, I had been contemplating the words of a university ad on my paper coffee cup.
I decided I would need another cup of coffee before I answered. Am I?
My husband is the lucky recipient of my deepest thoughts, which usually bombard him either early in the morning or late at night, when most people are simply planning to brush their teeth.
The other night, I told him I was yearning for a deeper/stronger/more vibrant —
[hmm, how can I explain this without sounding like a plaque from the Christian bookstore?]
— connection with God in this second half of my life.
Shouldn’t I look way different by now? I asked him. I’ve been doing this Christian thing for 39-50 years (minus the many I spent healing or fixing what I broke).
He wanted to know what I thought I should look like.
In the book “The Pursuit of God,” A.W. Tozer says that to witness an example of people with a burning desire for God, we should look to holy men and women from the past.
“They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking. Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better. ‘Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight’; and from there he rose to make the daring request, ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory.’ God was frankly pleased by this display of ardor, and the next day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession made all His glory pass before him.”
In response to my own (less dramatic) yearning, in January, I chose a “word to live by” for 2017. Rather than simply ruminating on the word “shepherded,” I began the practice of reading Psalm 23 every morning and journaling any thoughts it elicited.
Maybe the word came first and instigated my recent yearning or maybe the yearning was latent and needed to be named. Either way, it is one of the small ways I am knowing God better.
Whether or not he counts this as ardor and calls me to a “mount” is yet to be seen. (I can’t help but think a new, 4-wheel drive Jeep in gunmetal gray would help me get there faster).
But I do know one thing. If he shows me a new way, I want to be ready.
I don’t want to step out tentatively into my second half of life faith journey with bad hair and frightened eyes. I want to jump off the Warrior bus believing my feet will land on holy ground.