Telling about one’s spiritual journey is common in Evangelical communities. It’s an invitation to talk about your conversion. But there is no reason why mainline Christians can’t do that, too, even though we are usually baptized as infants. I advocate telling about your spiritual journey in terms of how close or far from God you have been over the years of your life.
I invite you to think in terms of the chart below. It is small. You can reproduce it on a larger sheet of paper. Plot out your personal journey. The vertical line represents how far or close to God you were at various stages of your life, represented by the horizontal line.
A typical journey is the chart on the right. What was your God relationship like when you were conﬁrmed, if that’s your story? For some that is a time of closeness, when the truths they have been taught in catechism class make sense—at an eighth-grade level. Then may come a time of drifting away during the challenging years of high school. Maybe the drift is further down on the chart during college and young adulthood. With young-adult responsibilities of marriage and children, many believers do return to attending church, where they may stay with sporadic and passive attendance. The small dotted line represents the old understanding when the ideal was to stay faithful to your conﬁrmation vows.
If your congregation is well functioning, you get drawn into deeper fellowship and growth in your relationship with God. Where are you now on the chart?
Here is the payoﬀ question: Where do you want to be in the future? Are you going to stay as you are? Or do you want to be drawn even closer to God and to experience more of the fruit the Spirit oﬀers?
In other blogs I have written about four stages of faith development: 1) merit-based faith, 2) conﬁrmed faith, 3) convicted faith and 4) close-to-God faith. The second is typical of most members in a main-line church—conﬁrmed passive faith. Some are at the third stage—convicted active faith and involvement in congregational life. A few make it to the fourth stage of faith and ministry—very close to God.
Movement toward the third and fourth stages is not something you do on your own. The Holy Spirit has to move you there. Often that comes through a “wall” experience when you cannot maintain the life routines you have had, through perhaps a serious illness, or loss of a job, or death of someone close to you. Then spiritual truths you have confessed take on much more meaning. They become convicted faith with more active involvement in serving others. You know who you are in Christ and want to worship God and serve others.
Why would you want to grow beyond Stage 2 of head-oriented conﬁrmed faith? Because then the Spirit can bring about more of his special fruit in your life—his gifts of more love, joy, peace, patience and other motivations like that. Who would not want to grow into more of these characteristics?
Although the Spirit brings the changes in motivation, you yourself can take action to help that process. You can put yourself in the Spirit’s workplace—a fellowship of believers gathered around God’s word and sharing application to their life situations.
You can learn to wait upon the Spirit. You can do GROWTH practices I advocate. You can Go to God in worship and prayer, Read his Word for you, Opt for self-denial, give Witness to your experiences, Trust God in a new venture and Humble yourself before God.