When Jon and I celebrated our 30th anniversary a few years ago, we took a bike tour of The Netherlands. Although we had a vague idea of what the 6-day trip would entail, it was our two guides that made the experience the trip of a lifetime. Every morning they showed us the route we would take on a large, detailed map of the countryside. They pointed out landmarks to look for. They gave us a GPS to attach to our bike. And they even rode their bikes with us as we weaved in and out of fields filled with tulips and windmills! We relied so heavily on the experience and support of these guides, that when the bike trip ended and we were responsible for getting ourselves back to the Amsterdam airport, Jon and I somehow ended up on a train headed to Paris . . and didn’t realized it until we were 2 hours in the wrong direction! This experience reminds me of the need for a roadmap on my spiritual journey as well:
Who could guide me along the path of true joy in life and ministry?
Who could help me when I felt spiritually dry, guilty and confused?
Who was able to give language to the ups and downs of my spiritual journey and keep me from going in the wrong direction for too long?
Bill and Kristi Gaultiere of Soul Shepherding have been such guides for me and thousands of people for many years. And now in their new book, Journey of the Soul, they give a map for the spiritual journey, showing you how to identify your current stage of faith, why you may feel stuck and how to take the next steps of being with Jesus your heart longs for. Drawing from the models of Theresa of Avila and others, along with decades of study with over 70,000 hours of providing therapy and spiritual direction, Bill and Kristi (PhD and Psy.D) have developed the CHRIST stages of faith. This model emphasizes following Jesus in a journey of increasing emotional and spiritual health. Here are the CHRIST stages of faith the book dives into:
Confidence in Christ (the C Stage)---Following Jesus Christ begins with receiving His forgiveness and new life (e.g., 1 Peter 1:3-4).
Help in Discipleship (the H Stage)---We grow in community with Christ-followers and by practicing spiritual disciplines (e.g., John 8:31-32).
Responsibilities in Ministry (the R Stage)--We grow when we use our gifts to serve God and bless people (e.g., Romans 12:4-8).
The Wall (Transition)--Spiritual dryness or getting stuck is a hidden opportunity for deeper growth and joy (e.g., Isaiah 43:19).
Inner Journey (the I Stage)--We experience spiritual renewal through empathy, emotional growth, and longing for God (e.g., Psalm 139:23-24).
Spirit-Led Ministry (the S Stage)--Our greatest joy and impact is to act with the presence and power of the Spirit to serve others(e.g., Matthew 11:28-29).
Transforming Union (the T Stage)--Our journey of the soul culminates with being united in the generous love of Jesus Christ (e.g., Philippians 1:21).
I think you will find Journey of the Soul to be an adventure of discovery in which you gain language for your feelings and faith. The book has tons of stories, personal examples and soul care practices to help cultivate emotional and spiritual health for you and the people you love and serve. Perhaps you can make it part of your Lenten practice with me?