The Sacred Journey…Four Stages of Development
Once you embark on the spiritual path and begin to practice it regularly, there will come a time - it may be a few months or perhaps even a few years - but there will come a time when you realize nothing is as it once was and there is no going back.
BY: Dr. Steve McSwain
Where does thirst come from? Or, the feeling of hunger? These are natural needs and functions within the human body. You only feel them and so respond.
It is the same with grace. With God.
I believe the desire for God is written into your very DNA. In fact, I'll go one step further. I even believe the "desire" for God IS God. Which, if this is true, renders all human seeking after God rather silly. Why would you seek for that which you are? That's the proverbial fish in the sea in search of the ocean.
Follow the feeling. Give your attention to the desire. But give up the belief there is anything you must do in order to know God. This is where religion has failed many. Even in Christianity or, more accurately, the thirty thousand-plus versions of Christianity that have developed throughout the centuries, there has been, and continues to be, a gross failure. Go into almost any church, for example, express your "desire" to know God and see if there are not a catalogue of things you must do, expectations you must meet.
"God helps those who help themselves." If you'll pray, God will hear you." "Be obedient and God will..."
God will do what, if I do what?
Shall I say more? Give me a break. It's blasphemy. It's unbiblical. And, it is anything but grace.
Depending on the denomination, I assure you there is in most churches a step by step process you must follow in order to know God.
It's not so, my friend. Desire is enough. Desire IS
Follow the desire. See what happens.
2. Find a spiritual mentor...
This is what I do, actually even for a living. I mentor people on the spiritual path. Oh, sure, I coach people who come to me seeking balance in life, or help sorting through a monumental decision they have to make, or to think through strategies for becoming more successful in their lives and in their living.
What many of these do not know, however, is that there really is a spiritual solution to almost every problem. I did not say a religion to solve their challenges. But a spiritual solution. There is a difference. The balanced life, for example, is not a compartmentalized life. Which IS the way most people live. It is instead a life where mind, body and spirit - the three entities that make up who you are - are in sync or harmony with each other. When they are not, your life feels out of balance. Your capacity to make decisions becomes clouded and more difficult.
So we seek a mentor. And, we should.
Everyone needs a mentor. Even the mentor needs a mentor.
When you get serious about your sacred journey, this is one of the first felt needs you will have - the feeling of resourcelessness when it comes to the journey. The need for a mentor. Without it, you'll feel like a seeker in a forest with no flashlight.
For the last two weeks, for example, I've been trying to fulfill my civic duty and serve as a juror. I'm fifty-seven years old and, until recently, have never been summoned to appear. I came to this service grumbling the first day for its interruption of my routine. As it has turned out, however, I was not here long before I became intrigued by how our justice system works. I discovered, too, that most of my time here has been free...just sitting...and waiting to be called. Consequently, it has turned out to be quite productive. In fact, I was asked by a fellow juror, "Well, what do you think?"
"I've gotten so much work done while waiting," I responded, "I'm thinking about moving my office to the jury pool."
About forty of us were called today from the pool of jurors to be interviewed by both the prosecuting attorneys and the defense attorneys in an effort to select a twelve-person jury. In the course of their questioning, the judge, attorneys and the other jurors learned I was once a minister. In fact, in response to one of the prosecuting attorney's questions, I responded, "I'm a recovering Baptist preacher."
The room erupted into laughter. I really wasn't trying to be funny as I almost always answer the question of what I do in that way. I'm not sure if that's what disqualified me from serving, but I was not selected to serve as one of the twelve jurors.
During our lunch break, however, and before any of us knew who would be called, I walked down the street to a pizza stand and ordered a slice of pepperoni pizza. I sat down when a man approached me and said, "May I join you?"
"Sure," I said, not recognizing him as one of those from the pool of potential jurors. I really had planned to do a little work and, frankly, didn't want him there. But, as the same moment I had that feeling, I also had the thought, "Be present...be engaged...be kind."
I quickly discovered he sought me out on purpose. He had heard me make the comment about being a "recovering Baptist minister" and wanted to know more.
Because he was looking for a mentor. He didn't know to call it that. But, deep within, he felt drawn to talk to someone about the desire he'd been feeling to take up the spiritual path. Since he wasn't interested in "organized religion," as he called it, perhaps a "recovering minister," or so he thought, "would have some unbiased advice to give him."
We spent the hour talking together and getting to know each other. It really was wonderful. I enjoyed the pizza far more than I would have, too.
I offered him few suggestions along with the promise of a complimentary copy of my book on spirituality: The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God. "This book has guided thousands of readers," I told him. "It'll guide you, too."
He talked and laughed and shared some more and later returned to the jury pool.
Everyone needs a mentor.
Why would you make this all-important journey alone, especially when it isn't necessary? Many have traveled this path before you. Their wisdom will guide you. Write me, if you need some good recommended reading, some good lights to illumine your path.
3. Question everything you've been taught to believe...
Just before we returned to the jury pool, my new friend asked, "What's the most important thing for me to remember as I take up this sacred journey?"
"And, furthermore," he continued before I could answer, "I have two children...what should I do to help them on their journey?"
"In both instances," I replied, "question all that you've heard and most of what you think."