April 10, 2017
Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 offers a narrative for how people find their way to God. Dave Ferguson has written about this in 5 Stages of Spiritual Awakening.
1. Awakening to Longing. This is the universal feeling people have that "there's got to be more" to life. We all feel the longing for love, purpose, and meaning. It is the quest to satisfy these basic longings that sends us on a journey. Initially we may not understand that God gave us these longings, so we try to satisfy the longings by running away from God rather than toward God.
2. Awakening to Regret. We tend to pursue those longings without God. When we do, we find ourselves alone, directionless, confused. Eventually we say, "I wish I could start over." Many people get stuck repeating the first two awakenings over and over again and enter the "sorry cycle"--pursuing God-given longings outside of a relationship with God which leads to decisions and actions that just cause more regret. Many people get stuck in the "sorry cycle" for years.
3. Awakening to Help. After repeating the "sorry cycle" of trying to fulfill these longings without God, and ending up with regret over and over again, we finally acknowledge something has to change. We come to the end of ourselves and say, "I can't do this on my own." We hit bottom. We come to our senses. We realize we need help.
4. Awakening to Love. In this stage we come to the realization that Jesus is the one who leads us to God. As we come to God, we are ambushed by grace. We discover "God, loves me deeply after all!" However, often there is a shadow of shame and guilt that follows us, and we struggle to believe we are loved and accepted just as we are.
5. Awakening to Life. This is where we discover that through following Jesus we have "life and have it to the full" (John 10:10). The New Testament in Greek uses two words for life: bios and zoe. Bios refers to chronological life: days, months, and years. But zoe carries a deeper meaning. It refers to life as it was truly meant to be lived. Zoe is eternal life. When Jesus says he came so we would have "life and have it to the full," he uses the word zoe. As we experience this final awakening we realize, "Now, this is living!"
How are you being awakened to God? How might you guide others to come home to the arms of a heavenly Father who longs for their return?
I look forward to worshipping with you on Easter Sunday morning at 10:00 or 11:15 as we celebrate the resurrection of the One who is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6)!