“You will see greater things …”: On the Brink of Spiritual Awakening

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“You will see greater things …”

I’m part of a number of groups on Facebook which focus on faith deconstruction, and it always saddens me a little when I hear from people who’ve given up on the idea of “God” entirely.

Some have expressed huge relief, tremendous freedom in no longer carrying the oppressive baggage of a heavy-handed God and the burden of their religion. Some have admitted disorientation and confusion, even grief over the loss of the spiritual/religious part of their identity.

Deconstruction is a wonderful, even if painful, process. It’s like maturity, earned and hard-won. It’s not meant to be easy, and if you follow thru with the process, the end is always better than the beginning.

Rethinking doctrines and dogmas, shedding rigid ideas that limited you or your view of the world is a good thing, a healthy thing. For so many (including me), it’s cleared the debris and detritus from the luminous. (LOL, how poetic.) It’s made God all the more radiant and mysterious, more alluring than ever. As harsh as the world can be sometimes, I’m still awed by the wonder and magic of it all — and wanting more.

Wanting more. That’s what it’s about.

This Sunday’s lectionary readings include the story of the boy Samuel when he is first called by God. Literally. He hears his name being called four times, and finally answers back. “Here I am. Speak, I’m listening.” The story is prefaced by this interesting description: “The word of the LORD was rare in those days; and visions were not widespread” (1 Sam 3). And I think it’s meant to describe the failure and corruption of the existing priestly family under Eli and his sons. And this calling of Samuel — and his response — is like a fresh new wave of spiritual activity.

The lectionary Gospel reading describing the calling of Jesus’s first disciples (John 1) kinda follows along the same line. Jesus is walking by one day, when two of John the Baptist’s disciples start following him. Jesus turns around and asks that universal question: “What are you looking for?” They don’t know quite how to answer that question, so they kinda fumblingly respond, “um, where are you staying?” And Jesus answers ambiguously, “Come and see.”
Jesus next encounters Nathanael for the first time, and he says with some visionary insight, “here is genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” And Nathanael is like, “you don’t even know me.” But Jesus answers, “before your brother called you, I saw you sitting under the fig tree.” Nathanael is impressed by this, but then Jesus makes this amazing promise:
“You will see greater things than these. I assure you that you will see heaven open …”

Here’s the point to all this.

I think we’re living in an age on the brink of a great spiritual awakening. (Yeah, another one, LOL.) Your questions, your challenging of the beliefs and practices you grew up with aren’t a failure of faith. They are signs of sincere hunger, and reflect a heart that is genuinely seeking truth, one “in whom there is no deceit.” There’s a cosmic question still hanging in the air, inviting, encouraging … “What are you looking for?”

And like with Samuel, and like with those first disciples, I believe there’s a lingering promise that more will be revealed if we keep seeking, that we’ll discover a deeper, more profound spiritual life — that we might even see heaven opened. The calling from the Spiritual Deep is still there — it’s never stopped — and it may well be calling you by name. The invitation to “come and see” still stands. I hope our answer will always be, with Samuel, “here I am; I’m listening.”

Refs: 1 Samuel 3:1-20; John 1:43-51.
Image by Ilo from Pixabay, cc.