Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity (1 John 2:16-17—The Message).

By Chester Mitchell

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I don’t want a minimal life! I want to understand the main thing about life & pursue it.

—John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life


It is the nature of stone to be satisfied. It is the nature of water to want to be somewhere else.

—from the poem Gravel, by Mary Oliver


We’ve all heard the stories of successful executives, entrepreneurs, or just ordinary people who decided to walk away from their “envied lives” and live out the longing of their inner selves. We often quickly dismiss their actions as simply the impulsive knee-jerk response of people who will probably come to their senses later. We expect that sooner or later, they will wander back to join the “regular rats” in the race—a.k.a. the “normal life.”


Thomas Kelley was a Quaker missionary. He captured our inner longing for a deeper life:


We feel honestly the pull of many obligations and try to fulfill them all. And we are unhappy, uneasy, strained, oppressed, and fearful we shall be shallow…. We have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hum(‘ existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and If only we could slip over into that center. We have seen and known some people who have found this deep center living, where the fretful calls of life are integrated, where NO as well as YES can be said with confidence.


Many of us may need to confess that we, too, wish till life that has a deeper meaning. Like Solomon in Ecclesiastes, we realize the futility of a life lived for things. We long for depth. We long for meaning. And we long for inner tranquility. A time and place where the noise ceases and we hear the “still, voice” of the Spirit clearly.


The questions that haunt our minds are:

  • What does it mean to live deeper?
  • How can I can I experience a deeper spiritual life?
  • What would my life look like if I lived deeper instead of living on a superficial level?


“Superficiality is the curse of our age,” Richard J. Foster says in Celebration of Discipline. “The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”


Solomon uses the word vanity over and over. “‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity’” Ecclesiastes 1:2—NKJV). He saw life as having:

  • No profit (vv. 3,4): Nothing we do changes the results.
  • No purpose (vv. 5-7): We keep repeating the same things and nothing changes.
  • No progress (vv. 8-11): Nothing we do makes any difference.