Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An ongoing process for spiritual formation:
Where am I? To where is God calling me? What is my part in this process?

As we think and dream about following Christ together in a faith community, we begin to discern a series of recurring movements in our spiritual formation.

We begin somewhere in the process (not necessarily one place or the other). Perhaps we face a crisis or opportunity in our lives and enter into a time of prayer, asking for God's guidance and help through this time. Or perhaps in the daily practice of Bible reading or in the midst of conversation with a trusted friend, we hear the call of God toward some new place in our faith. Or perhaps we've decided to try something new in our faith walk: a new way of serving our co-workers, a new practice of prayer, or a new way of interacting with and blessing our spouse.

No matter where we begin, we find these three related and interconnected movements:
  • Asking "where am I now?", looking around ourselves to discern our "spiritual landscape", being observant about our orientation to God and His purposes, the relationships shape us, the things which demand our time and energy, our gifts and talents, and the struggles which we face.
  • Asking "to where is God calling me?", hearing the call of God into new territory and trusting Him to lead us into a future of His purposes for our blessing.
  • Asking "what's my part in this process?", looking for concrete ways we can participate with God right where we find ourselves in the midst of our daily lives.
Surrounding and filling each of these movements is the activity of God, calling us into conversation with Him, revealing Himself to us, empowering and guiding us. The Spirit is at work in our discerning process, opening our eyes to the reality of where we stand now. The Spirit is at work in calling us to a renewed vision of the future, what God intends for our own wholeness and restoration in every aspect of our lives. And the Spirit is at work in us as we put into practice those things we learn from Jesus.

And as we move through these phases, we find that the whole process is itself dynamic, not caught in an endless loop but rather moving in the direction of Christ. As we attend to each movement in the process, we find that our general movement is toward Christ. We may certainly fall, be caught for a time in foolishness or even outright sin. But is not our hope that though we struggle, Christ bears our burdens and delivers us? Do we not look forward to a foretaste of new life now, though our fullness awaits Christ's return?

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