Essential Elements of Spiritual Growth
At a recent training I attended the group was asked to list six essential ingredients of spiritual formation.
That is an intriguing question. What would you list?
- The Triune God of Love
- Revelation (Word, creation)
- Time (life-long process)
- Response (this is the human agency element)
- Others (community, church)
- Disruption/disorientation (suffering)
I kind of go back and forth on how to put God’s love, revelation, incarnation, and sacrifice in there, so I am still polishing my thinking. How about you? What would you have on the list?
Concerning That Last Element….
Does that last one, disruption, surprise you?
The only way we can move to a place of new orientation is to be disoriented from our present orientation.
Sometimes re-orientation comes through desired life experiences – like continuing education or a good book. Sometimes not so much, like one of mom’s don’t-mess-with-me time outs.
But for the big transformative shifts in life we usually require a stronger jolt. Thus, adversities are a key ingredient that God uses to move us forward in our spiritual journey. St. John of the Cross called it the dark night of the soul. Others speak of spiritual deserts, wilderness experiences, the “wall” – all these are times of deep hardship.
Knowing Is Key
Living in a fallen world guarantees we will face hard times. It’s not whether we suffer, but how and when.
Further, God will disrupt us to draw us further into himself (see Hebrews 12, for example). Regardless of whether God causes or allows a hardship, he loving leverages the circumstances to draw us deeper into himself. It is that deepening communion we are transformed.
Knowing this is forewarning. If we find ourselves in a dark time, then we can know that our good God is up to good, even if it is painful. He may not cause the pain, but he always lavishes his loving presence upon us. God redeems everything.
Remember, God defines our circumstances. Our circumstances do not define God.
How is the Wise Question to Ask
How is God inviting you to walk with him in a season of disorientation?
How do you want to respond to him?
How will you make extra time to draw near to him?
Will you spend more time in his word?
Will you call upon your community to rally around you?
Will you wait on God as these seasons usually last longer than we could ever have imagined?
All of these are key ingredients to growing deeper into the love and life of our Triune God.
It is Love that beckons, how will you respond?