The Critical Journey – part 2
This is the continuation of a map of the spiritual journey as presented in the book The Critical Journey, Stages in the Life of Faith by Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich. It is very important to first read PART ONE which you can find here.
SEASON FOUR: The Inward Journey
“Hitting the wall” in stage three serves as a catalyst for pursuing a transforming inner journey. Persuaded that the old pattern does not work, believers enter deeply with the soul to engage God. They may practice disciplines that foster reflection and prayer; they take retreats, work with spiritual directors and experience fresh integration of faith to life. Surprisingly, these people discover that God has been waiting for them all along. The healing of Peter’s brokenness (see John 21:15-23) illustrates the transformational nature of the inward journey.
Hagberg and Guelich offer a bold observation: “It would be great to think that most priests, ministers, and other spiritual leaders could be our guide through stage four and the Wall. The sad truth is that many of these leaders have not been led through this stage themselves and have not allowed themselves to question deeply or to become whole. So many of those to whom we look most naturally for help are inadequate guides for this part of the journey.” Spiritual directors who have traveled the path offer struggling pilgrims the best hope.
SEASON FIVE: The Outward Journey
God directs those who have made the renewing inward journey back outward into the active world with clear vision and purpose. The call may be to the same ministry, but the motivation is radically different. Filled with deep love for God, disciples now serve not themselves, but the interests of others. Christians who navigate this passage marvel that earlier they were blind to what following Jesus is all about. But in the “productive” stage, “We were just too busy, too noisy or too successful to see it.” Paul’s service as Christ’s bond slave to the Gentile world illustrates the outward journey stage.
SEASON SIX: The Journey of Love
Here, the Christian senses God’s call to lay down his life in Christ’s name for others. Filled with the Father’s love, like Jesus, he washes others’ feet, either figuratively or literally. “We have little ambition to be well known, rich, successful, noteworthy, goal-oriented or spiritual. We are like vessels into which God pours His spirit, constantly overflowing.” In this stage servants live simply and sacrificially because their focus is God and His priorities. Disregarding success and reputation, they appear to others to have wasted their lives. The elderly apostle John illustrates well the life of selfless love (see John 1).
This map challenges all of us as disciples to pursue the crucial inner journey. It issues a call to move from being superficial and circumferential people to being inner-directed, God-centered people. As Thomas à Kempis put it, “The inward person [God] visits often and brings pleasant conversation, much peace and friendship better than your highest expectation.”
What do you think? Can you find yourself on the map? Thoughts? Comments? Reflections? Leave a comment below or send me a note through the contact page.