The Bible is filled with journeys from Abram and Sarai to the missionary journeys of Paul. In the midst of all that, is the journey of God to earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to death on a cross, resurrection and return to the Father. Jesus called fishermen like Peter, James, John and Andrew to follow him and he would make them ‘fishers of men’. In others words they were not yet what they would become. But they would become what God created them to be (their ‘true selves’) as they loved and followed Jesus. That would be quite a journey. Several years ago I read a book by Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich entitled “The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith”. Hagberg and Guelich have identified 7 stages of faith not including “The Wall” which lies somewhere in and between stages 4 and 5. Later on my journey, Robert Mulholland Jr. introduced me to the 4 stages of the classical christian pilgrimage which are “Awakening, Purgation, Illumination and Union’ (“Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation”).
There are numerous definitions of the goal of the spiritual journey but Mulholland’s is as good as any I’ve encountered. “Spiritual formation is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ, a journey into becoming persons of compassion, persons who forgive, persons who care deeply for others and the world, persons who offer themselves to God to become agents of divine love and serve as Jesus did”. Both of these books have been instrumental in helping me see where on the journey I might be and what lies ahead. If I know where I am and where I’d like to be next, then I can try and put myself in a place where God can help me move to the next stage of my journey. A spiritual director or spiritual formation coach can be very helpful in sorting things out as we travel the path to ‘union’ with God. What about you? Where are you on the faith journey? Where would you like to be with God’s help? Do you have someone who can walk beside you on your journey?