Not long ago I told my spiritual director, Beth, that I didn't know if I heard God's voice the way she did. "God speaks so clearly to you! I don't know if God works in my life the same way," I told her. "No Jeff," she reassured me. "God desires to speak to you too. You do hear His voice! You just need to learn how to recognize it as Him." "OK, Beth, I'll take your word for it, but I still have my doubts."
When I am honest, (happens once in a while :) ) I admit I do want to be guided by God for direction, especially when it comes to living out my dream, my calling, my purpose. I just don't want to make stuff up! You, know... "God told me" stuff! Yet, I really have witnessed first hand God speaking to some people, giving them "insights, " "words," "guidance." These are "normal" folks. People I respect and trust. "Walk to Miami." "Go and speak to that young man." "Call John." So, what about God- Guidance for me? Moi? This guy? What is He calling me to pay attention to? If I am to use my time, energy, money and future well, is their some guidance I am supposed to pay close attention to... or does God not speak to me about those things?
Reading a book by Debbie Macomber, called One Perfect Word,I stumble upon an unfamiliar concept and a very foreign-sounding word in her chapter on passion. The word: "Sehnsucht." She shares that this was the word C.S. Lewis used to describe as a clue to the spiritual... an "inconsolable longing," a "deep feeling of connection that can't really be explained with any one word in the English language." It's a deep feeling from the heart that Lewis uses for "longing for home" and "nostalgia." For some tears erupt and a deep emotion that feels like a longing or almost unexplainable desire. Macomber says, "It's a sign of sehnsucht. It's an indication that the Holy Spirit is talking to us."
in Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis wrote, "From at least the age of six romantic longing - sehnsucht - had played an unusually central part in my experience. Such longing is in itself the very reverse of wishful thinking: it is more like thoughtful wishing."
I think this was what Frederick Buechner was talking about in his book Whistling in the Dark when he wrote, "Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexplained tears, it is well to pay closest attention."
Huh, a way that God gets out attention... an indication that the Spirit is talking to us. I think I have heard God speak through "sehnsucht" and I didn't even realize that might be God! I create a list.... Feeling of home in the mountains... Landing in Tel Aviv Airport in Israel... Deep emotion around teens and twenty-somethings discovering and engaging their callings and dreams... Deep emotion when I sing the song that includes "I see a generation rising up to take their place.. with selfless faith"... Deep emotion about business being utilized to change the world, not just make the rich richer.... Deep emotion about people finding God in their work... Deep emotion about the Church being relevant and not removed from everyday life... Deep emotion about women being freed to use all their gifts and no longer being held back by the "glass ceiling" of opportunity....
These are clues for me... God's guidance. Hmmmm.. And they seem to almost bypass my "figure it out brain" and tune me in to a spiritual calling. A future focus. A greater longing for real home.
So, how about you? Have you ever experienced "sehnsucht?" Join me in this journey. Create your own list. Think back to unexplained tears. Deep emotion. A feeling of home in a place you had never visited. Like me, you might just be surprised that God has been getting your attention.. and with me you will then be asking, "So, what should I do about this?" About this "sehnsucht stuff?"
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