Pastors are great, aren’t they? These guys dedicate their lives to helping others grow spiritually, an endeavor which they will never be able to see come to complete fruition. It’s easy to think of pastors like we think of teachers. They help, teach, guide, and then get to watch their students succeed, a success they can take pleasure knowing that they had a hand in setting into motion.
But pastors are different. Sure, in some ways they’ll get to observe the spiritual fruit of those they’ve discipled and the immense pleasure that I’m sure comes with seeing someone dedicate their life to Jesus. There is satisfaction in knowing that the holy spirit worked through them in a way that brought more people to Christ.
But spiritual journeys are much more complex than any pastor, mentor, or confidante could ever observe no matter how close they are to an individual. Sermons, books on faith, discussions, and really any musings on spirituality fall remarkably short in articulating the unworldliness that takes hold from a genuine and authentic relationship with God, which is the ultimate and ongoing goal.
I don’t know that my walk has improved but that’s the closest word we have so I’ll go with it. Now the moments I’ve felt closest to God are no longer describable and certainly not observable by the people who encouraged and sometimes thrust me deeper into this journey.
Of course, I still love to listen to sermons, take part in discussions, read books, really anything. But I now know that those things are just the tip of the iceberg in a life lived with Jesus. I could write a million words or sit here for a million hours editing these words to try and convey my point but I wouldn’t be able to.
It doesn’t happen in the moment you die to yourself and it doesn’t not happen in that moment either. It’s not even that I’m trying to say “everyone’s journey is different and it may happen this way or that way for you”. The best words I’ve come up with sound like a weird sci-fi movie.
It’s like your life isn’t a straight line and time folds onto itself. You can take up all the space around you or none of it. Impossible isn’t a word and you and God might as well be sitting on a cloud somewhere while you’re sitting in accounting class. Everyone else thinks that the accounting class is reality but you know the cloud with God is where your reality dwells.
Your pastor CAN’T be there for that. Then again, if “impossible” no longer exists then neither does “can’t”. But, if you’re there then it’s unlikely that your pastor (or anyone for that matter) can observe you there. And, like mine just did, your words in trying to describe the spirituality that they helped facilitate will fall woefully short.