5 Steps to Help You Find Your Spiritual Path

Have you ever had the feeling nothing exists outside of the physical world you live in?

While I was in college nearly 20 years ago I hit a place like that, a place that Psalm 63 calls “A dry and weary land where there is no water.”  I went for two years wondering if God exists.  If he did, why was he letting me wander around without any sense of his presence?

I grew up with Christian parents, my dad was a pastor, and I had just spent a year at a Bible college studying Greek and learning about God.

Why was this happening to me?  What was happening to me?

I cried.  A lot.

I read the Psalms constantly.  I could identify (I still do sometimes) with a David who yelled at God about his pain and then thanked him for his gifts, who raged that his enemies’ children should be dashed to pieces and then submitted to God’s will.

I wondered if Abraham felt like this when he went for years and years without hearing from God.

Then, as suddenly as that time arrived for me, it was gone.

It sounds eerie and hokey-pokey, but that’s what happened.  One evening I was crying my eyes out and the next morning I was at peace and I somehow knew God was real and was with me.

I had made it through.

If you are in the middle of a spiritual vacuum and feel more like railing at your pain and difficulties than thanking God for his gifts, I understand.

Now, 20 years and lots of reflection later, here are six steps to help you find your way.

  1. Begin. Make a mental and heart decision to pursue God.  It is not an emotional decision such as, “Do I feel like finding out if God exists and cares?”  No, it is a practical one coming out of your core: “I will . . . and want to begin . . . somehow.”
  2. Ask.  Ask God to reveal himself to you.  Whether you believe it or not, God has been pursuing you since before the beginning of time.  If you seek him out, he will find you.
  3. Look.  Once you have begun your journey and have asked God to reveal himself, look for him.  Ask yourself, “Is this God speaking to me?”  It may seem weird at first (perhaps you shouldn’t say that out loud in the middle of a staff meeting), but you have to retrain your eyes and heart to see what you have never seen before.
  4. Continue.  Don’t decide after a day or a week or a month that you are done looking for God and asking him to speak to you.  First, I doubt you will go very long without seeing God at work in some subtle way.  Second, do you think that you will learn how to see and experience God overnight?  Give it time.  Be patient, as difficult as that may be in your situation.
  5. Trust.  This is the hardest part.  In the middle of pain or a spiritual vacuum the hardest thing is trusting that God cares and is near to you.  He is.  He just may not show up the way you expected him to.  And why should he?  He’s God, and completely not human.

What story can you share about how you found God?

Stewardship of Your Story

The last few years has been a study for me in learning through pain, and this past Sunday my pastor added a new chapter in my notes.  If you want to hear the entire message, click here and listen to “Impact #3 Stewardship of Your Story.”  It is worth your time.

He asked the question, “What if God wants to use your pain to help others?”

We like to hide our failures so that we look the way we think people want us to look.  In the end we all end up hiding from each other, afraid to open up and get help when we need it.

The Scripture is full of examples of situations where people’s pain turned to salvation: Joseph saving his family after being sold as a slave, Abraham having to leave all he knew to go somewhere about which he knows nothing.  In Isaiah 53 we read that Christ’s pain was part of our redemption.

At a time when she was vulnerable, poor, a foreigner, and essentially a migrant worker, Ruth was working in Boaz’s fields.  Instead of exploiting her he had compassion on her.  Long story short they end up getting married and restoring the honor of her mother-in-law’s family.

Question: Where did Boaz learn to protect vulnerable women?

When the Israelites were preparing to attack Jericho, they sent in some spies.  Two of these spies got trapped and ended up escaping the authorities because a prostitute hid them.  Hmmm, what were they doing at the prostitute’s place?  But I digress . . .  In return the prostitute, Rahab, asks that she, her parents, and her brothers and sisters be spared when the Israelites attack.  The Israelites honored her request and Rahab went on to live with the Israelites.

Turns out she marries a man from the tribe of Judah.  His name was Salmon.  Their son was named . . you guessed it . . Boaz.  Boaz most likely learned to protect vulnerable women from his father, who married a prostitute and gave her honor back to her.

Check out Matthew 1 and you will find that Christ’s lineage goes through both Rahab and Ruth, two foreigners and one a prostitute.

Question: Would Boaz have learned the same lessons if Rahab had been afraid to live with the Israelites because of her reputation?

Pastor Ken’s point was this. If we have made it through our situation but keep it to ourselves, how will someone else in the same situation get encouragement?

Perhaps, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1, we are given comfort that we might comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received.  We can choose to hide our pain and be ashamed of it, or we can share it with others so that they can be encouraged and learn from it.

I was so grateful for my friend who was willing to share his painful story with me while I was going through separation and divorce.  He was such an encouragement to me.

Sharing the good things is easy, but sharing pain is something else altogether.  Do you have the courage to share your pain?

When have you been encouraged because someone shared their pain with you?  Have you been able to encourage someone else with your pain?