“Every single one of us comes to a place on our spiritual pilgrimage when our way of doing things fails. God on our terms as we know God is no longer adequate…If we can bear and tolerate this moment of crucifixion, the prize will be a new knowing of God.
But if, on the other hand, the terror, the loss, and the fear of the unknown abyss is too much, we will retreat from the edge and regress back into a former way of knowing, loving, and worshipping God…Our fear and our terror will set like wet cement and we will become increasingly rigid.” Michael Dwinell, Fire Bearer
I practically shouted with joy when I first read these words because I realized I was not losing my mind.
Over the past few months I have experienced deep dissatisfaction with my spiritual life to the point that schisms developed between my church’s leaders and I. People and programs I used to feel emotionally connected to were suddenly bereft of meaning. I withdrew from every area of ministry because in my dissatisfaction I became a fault-finder. Everyone around me behaved as if nothing was amiss so I concluded something was wrong with me. To be honest, the past few months have felt like a spiritual crucifixion.
Then I read Dwinell’s words above, and for the first time in months I felt hope return to my spiritual life.
My ways of knowing God on my own terms have failed. There is nothing wrong with me; I have simply outgrown my understanding of God. It is frustrating, even terrifying, to go through this process: Worship songs which used to bring me joy now sound shallow; pastors who used to speak to my soul now sound desperate, manipulative, and irrelevant; rituals which used to bring me peace now cause irritation.
I have a choice: Suffer through my terror, loss and fear of the unknown, and continue to seek a new understanding of God, or ‘retreat from the edge’ back to my old ways of knowing Him.
I cannot choose the latter option; it’s just not in my nature. I know people who made the choice to revert to a former way of knowing God; the signs of rigid religiosity are obvious, and that is not a road I am willing to travel.
Now that I know I’m not taking ‘crazy pills’ and understand that what I’m experiencing is just another stage of my growing relationship with Jesus Christ, I’m thrilled! I can take certain steps, make certain decisions, and pursue certain opportunities to know, love, and worship God in new ways!
If you have gone (or are now going) through this phase of your own spiritual pilgrimage, would you bless us by sharing your story?