By Andrew Hartzler, professor of accounting
This week’s theme is Deep in the Earth: Called to Deep Growth. Growth. It’s a word we have all heard frequently in our lives. In a college community it is a word spoken often. It is easy for us all to recognize physical growth and its inevitably in our physical bodies both upwards and outwards. When it comes to spiritual growth, however, we have a much harder time grasping how to nurture a deepening of our faith in the wonderful, mysterious, elusive intangibility that is the God of the universe.
In the parable of the sower, Christ gives us an illustration of what happens if our seeds of faith are not planted in the fertile soil where our roots can run deep. So how do we plant a vision, deep in fertile soil, of what it means to have a relationship with God? For me it is helpful to circle back again and again to the nature of who God is. God is the author, designer, creator and composer of all things good and beautiful in our world. It becomes immediately easier for me to pursue a deepening of my relationship with God when I see the connections between God and beauty, God and peace, God and love.
So if that is who God is, why is it difficult for us to pursue a relationship with a creator who is embodied in all that is good and beautiful? My observation has been that we struggle in our pursuit of faith because we are fragile and prone to distraction, confusion and self-interested pursuits. The antidote I have found to these distractions is to constantly remind myself to seek out evidence of God in everyday life. To see the fingerprints of God in a smile shared with a stranger, the embrace of a friend, the beauty of a melody, the colors of a sunset, and the bubbling up of laughter as it fills you with uncontainable amusement and joy.
In my lifelong pursuit of God I have realized that I have to seek in order to find God’s Spirit at work. I believe we were designed to encounter God, to hear the voice of God calling to us from deep within creation, stirring something deep within us. Even the prophet Elijah, someone who had one of the most direct connections to God in the Biblical narrative, had to seek after God. His personal meeting with God is a stirring reminder of the way in which we need to be on the constant lookout for the presence of God. God sent violent winds to shatter the rocks around Elijah’s mountain cave, earthquakes to shake the foundations of the mountain he stood on, fire to sear the air around him, and finally sheer and utter silence. After all that noise, when there was complete and total silence, Elijah became acutely aware of God’s presence. And God spoke to him in a still….small…..voice.
So my prayer for today and everyday is: God, help us to seek after you each and every day, stir in us an awareness of your presence, deepen our understanding of your Spirit, and help our roots grow deep into the nourishing, fertile soil of your love.