One of my good friends has dubbed it the quarter-life crisis.
Somewhere around 25 or so, a young man can feel the question hanging in the back of his mind, unformed and yet very much present. He has walked through all pre-planned educational doorways, finishing high school, college, and perhaps graduate studies. He has taken on his first job or two with devout hopes for success. Perhaps he has found the woman of his dreams and started out on the marital journey. There may even be a first child to complete the picture. He has been following all that society has subliminally spoken to him: “This is the way to life.”
But something is ajar. Something jagged doesn’t fit. After being thrown into the washing machine of the world, his tacit assumptions about life aren’t working. It may be some emotional crisis that billows up and breaks over his head. It may be some unforeseen failure in the workplace. Or perhaps regret about marriage when the sparks start to fly. But it doesn’t have to be a provoking circumstance. It could just be a gnawing doubt about his faith in those assumptions. His inner hunger for life is not being matched in his outer world. He feels disoriented with a soul-nausea. “This isn’t the way into life. Have I been duped? Tricked? Or have I somehow missed it?”
When a man reaches this point, he may feel this is the end of the trail. But he is wrong.
He is at the trail head.
The Hunger for Life
Every man has an insatiable hunger for life and the motion to fill that hunger dominates his being. It can assume all sorts of forms: a desire for love, a desire for success, for fame, for affirmation, power, connection, beauty, unity, truth. Inside his heart roams these desires in maddening disarray. He can’t control or predict them. But in the quarter-life crisis, he can do something different. He can stop and listen to them. If he does, they will all give him the same message: “You can’t find life here. You must look in a new place. You must look up, beyond you, beyond this world.”
He can push this message down and trudge on the same way, or he choose something different. He can choose to look up and beyond, voicing his desire for life in prayer: “God, if you are real, if you are the giver of life, lead me here. Guide me here. Take me here.”
Every man needs a guide, someone who has gone before him, who can show him the way to real life. But how can God do that for him?
Jesus As the Guide Into Life
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). This is the surprise of the Christian faith. Eternity punctured time. God became a man. He came down from the arena of light into the alleyways of darkness to give a man life. I will say it even stronger. A man’s insatiable desire for life is only superseded by Jesus’ desire to give him that life.
The only ask? You have to get up and follow Him.
This is the trailhead.
And if a man follows Jesus with all that desire, surprises await him at every turn. Perhaps the biggest one is this: Jesus becomes his personal guide into life. When he plants the weight of his soul here, his faith becomes muscular, a real man’s faith in a real Man. He starts reading Jesus’ words. He starts listening for Jesus’ voice. What happens next is the great adventure, the adventure into a life that will never end.
Are you at the trail head? Do you want to experience Jesus as your guide into life? Start by asking Him, and watch for His response.
PS. Feel free to reach out to me for other ideas on how to find your personal guide to life in Jesus. My work in spiritual direction and silent retreats is all about this.
Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has been a church planter, a high school Bible teacher, and a running coach. Six years ago, he pioneered Landmark Journey Ministries to help men connect their stories to God’s story through retreats and spiritual direction. His newest book, Heroic: The Surprising Path to Manhood, will be released in April 2019. His greatest claim to fame is being married to Heidi for 32 years and having two amazing daughters, Abigail, and Rachel. He and his wife currently reside in Franklin, TN.