As we live our daily lives, we are on a journey. I want you to consider what it means to be on a spiritual journey and how this will be significantly different from a secular or worldly walk. I will be sharing quotes and paraphrasing from Larry Crabb’s Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Path to Joy. I want you to consider what you are seeking in your life. What is your highest pursuit? What is your deepest desire? What is your life all about?
The Spiritual Journey Begins:
To begin walking with God, we first must be reconciled to a Holy God through Jesus’ payment for our sins. The spiritual pilgrimage begins when God saves us through His grace. Two major points to consider here:
- God saves us through the atonement of Jesus Christ–His Life, Death, and Resurrection. We must consider that “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. This salvation is through His grace not because of our works or anything desirable within our human nature. For a detailed explanation read: https://www.gotquestions.org/by-grace-through-faith.html
- God initiates and guides our journeys of faith. God grows and sustains our faith as we daily walk with Him trusting and living in His truth and grace. There will be times of testing, trial, and disappointment as God refines and purifies our faith!
Expect trials and difficulties that leads you towards deeper peace and joy in Christ
Previously, I have written about the heroes of faith. Let me remind you that everyone in scripture faced difficulties, sorrow, and trials as they walked with God. Why are we slow to understand that we too must face doubts, broken dreams, and struggles? Perhaps it’s because we desire an easy road to faith and broad road to Christ. God’s Word makes it clear which way the broad road leads! Got questions expresses this truth and what it means below:
To walk with Christ means to deny self and humble self before a Just, Holy, Righteous, and Perfect God! The more we walk with God and better understand His Holiness and Righteousness the more we realize just how sinful, vain, and rebellious our hearts are before Him. We can choose to turn to Christ and abandon self or walk our own way. We can seek to live by our own wisdom and understanding or trust in God’s Ways.
As we walk with God facing our doubts, fears, and insecurities, we direct ourselves to Him (instead of focusing on self or our own ideas about God). God is our source of Joy and Peace! We can have peace and joy because of Jesus regardless of the difficulties and questions we encounter in life. Why is this? Because Jesus is the only True Source of Joy and Peace.
Those on a spiritual journey understand that “their primary purpose is neither to enjoy this life nor the people they meet, nor themselves; it is rather to enjoy God.” The focus of the spiritual journey is on Christ, not on earthly things. There are somethings that we will only experience later when Christ returns or we pass through death into His presence.
Recognizing and focusing on God’s Holiness and Righteousness leads us to acknowledge our need for His grace and mercy. It’s the souls who realize they are lost that admit a need for salvation and grace! On this journey of faith, we will face hard questions about life. We will wonder why God allows things to happen and evil to seem to triumph.
Often as we draw closer to Christ and seek Him earnestly, things seem to get worse instead of better. God’s Ways are far above our ability to understand!
God is infinitely more wise than humans! Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) Nor does God explain the details and “whys” to us. Remember that God doesn’t tell Job why that he had to suffer loss. We get the reason in the prologue (Job Chapter 1) when Satan comes before God and introduces a wager about humans and faith. But Job didn’t have a prologue he could read when experiencing the loss of his family and health! Ultimately Job is proven to be faithful as he faces these terrible trials.
God purifies those whom He calls to walk with Him. Remember that Isaiah upon coming before God (Isaiah 6:5-6) recognizes that “he is a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Encountering God humbles us as we realize how great God’s Holiness and just how sinful and lacking we are. God sends an angel with a flaming coal to purify Isaiah. God sent Jesus to purify us! When we make a determination to seek God, we are inviting God to transform us. Often God will challenge our wrong/lacking notions and beliefs about Him! Transformation occurs as we experience God in our daily walk.
The more we walk with God and experience His presence the more that we realize how little we really know and can understand about God’s ways. The prophets faced this as they struggled to proclaim God’s truths to the wayward people of God. Consider the horrors of the Book of Lamentations and deep sorrows of Jeremiah who had to live through his own prophecies.
God corrects our beliefs and strengthens faith through difficulties-this tends to be painful/challenging
What we believe about God, Jesus, and God’s Word is critically important! The things that we face in life will challenge our beliefs. This isn’t an evil thing. It’s grace and truth working in our lives! What happens when what we believe doesn’t match reality? This is in an invitation to deeply consider God and His Word and to realign ourselves to their truths! Are we seeking God’s truth to transform us or are we trying to transform His truth to fit our understanding?
Larry Crabb warns about how that we often believe in a false Gospel and have shallow desires. Paul writes about this in Galatians wherein false teachers are trying to deceive the Galatians into a legalistic approach to righteousness apart from Christ. Our modern false gospels tend to center around self-improvement, or self-happiness that focuses on us (what we do, have, or can obtain ourselves) instead of Christ. God mercifully convicts and leads us back to Him when we stray from His grace to self-improvement schemes. That’s why that as we draw closer to God we often find ourselves having doubts and questioning our previous misunderstandings of God!
Larry compares Spirit’s and Satan’s masterpieces: (quotes from pages 120)
Holy Spirit’s masterpieces
- the man or woman who much prefers to live elsewhere
- finds no deep joy in the good things of this life
- who looks closely in the mirror and yearns to see something different,
- whose highest dream is to be in the Presence of the grace-filled Father,
- the person whose life here is consumed with preparing to meet Him there:
- the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable,
- who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here,
- a person who dreams of no better place to live,
- who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off–than he already is.
Which masterpiece describes you? The Spirit’s masterpieces are consumed with getting ready to meet God now and in eternity. The masterpieces of Satan are consumed with life in this world and seeking nothing better than to improve selves!
Walking the Spiritual Journey means that we abandon ourselves to pursue God first!
God allows broken dreams and difficulties so that we will abandon ourselves! While this seems harsh, it’s actually His mercy that allows us to suffer and question things so that we will (in our discontent) look up from this life and world to Him! Followers of Christ are reborn into a new nature and spirit that hungers for God more than all else.
Let’s remember that:
Our greatest joy and deepest delight is found in Christ alone! God’s not done with you or me! The next post will explore the value of emptiness and intimacy with Christ in our journeys of faith.
May God grant you discernment, courage, and hope as you forsake the worldly things in pursuit of Christ!
For His Glory and the edification of fellow pilgrims,
I, Lee Stanfill, write these words.