The pursuit of spirituality…heightens the probability of two…things that most of us find rather unpopular: the pain of self-discovery and often humiliation. Self-discovery in soul-development means renunciation of the claims of the ego. And this is no easy battle for any of us. As we seek the enlargement of that inner place where God may be heard, there is the inevitable discovery of attitudes and desires that are inimical to the holy way. They cannot be rationalised, excused, or denied; they must be named or confessed, renounced, replaced. And none of this is necessarily a pleasant experience.
Gordon MacDonald, The Life God Blesses.
It’s not surprising that we are not always that desperate to grow in faith. Pain, humiliation and renunciation of the claims of the ego. Confessing, renouncing, replacing old attitudes and desires. In fact, MacDonald really sells it, doesn’t he?!
When life is easy, a little bit of spiritual growth seems like a good proposition. We do want to be like Jesus, after all. Growing in faith and obedience is part of the deal. And, when life is good, it’s hard to think that spiritual growth might be painful.
Yet then there is the other side of the coin. The days when it feels like it’s been pain, humiliation and renunciation of the claims of the ego for longer than you can remember. The days when you feel like you’re not seeing change and now all you want to do is to survive. It is, as MacDonald notes, not a pleasant experience.
But, still, one day when you’ve given up believing, given up hoping, one day comes what MacDonald calls ‘the mark of spirituality’ which characterises those people who ‘have never been content with the sugar of experiences alone’. God’s light brings healing and transformation to your heart and you are reborn as one who now ‘lives out of the soul’.
And so, to the one who feels like they cannot hold on any longer, the one who has wrestled all night like Jacob and despairs of dawn, though you have given up on joy, know this: that the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn and that, though it is darker now than you have ever known, still morning will come.
He has promised it.