Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Irony of Spiritual Progress

Wonder and confusion surrounds the vessel,
He or she has a hard time finding peace to nestle,
The struggle is to find the life, steadfast and true,
The struggle is to become something abundantly new.
At the opposite end of the search suddenly it comes,
Such knowledge is silent, but with regularity it drums,
The way of spiritual progress is to go back to the start,
And from there to let God rebuild the heart.
Monopoly, the board game, endeared itself to my heart a long time ago. The principle of going back to the start of the board, not collecting your $200, and being required to start over is the principle that is at the core of true spiritual progress. To go forwards we need to, initially, go backwards.
Many people have been taken to such a paradoxical destination by their therapist. They have been taken back to their childhood; to relive a moment of trauma, where life became broken; where parents or caregivers let them down. Only as we traipse back there can we be assured that we are going back to the source of our brokenness.
Many of us have tried easier, softer ways. But that availed us nothing. We must go back to the start, but every ounce of our flesh will resist. Inner pride will rise up and demand to be listened to. This is probably why it is best when we are humiliated back to the start. This is why rock bottom experiences can be the very making of us.
The irony of spiritual progress is we need to go backwards before we can go forward.
This is how God can make a humiliating experience – a season of being exposed – come out for the good; so long as we respond by repenting, God will pick us up and reconstruct us from a better, more viable foundation.
God will only work in us if we are prepared to let him have his way.
We cannot progress in the spiritual life without humbling ourselves and being prepared to do what God’s heart desires to do in us.
The Lord richly desires that we walk through his open door; that we trust him to do what only he can do. And as we step through the door, in complete humility, pouring contempt on our pride, God shows us the way to true enlightenment. But our test is to stay surrendered.
Will we let Him?
Will God have His way?
There will be no progress,
Until we consistently obey.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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