Pilgrim’s Keyboard

January 10, 2009

Spiritual Journey

Filed under: Cindy — pilgrimskeyboard @ 1:56 pm

Spiritual Journey

By: Cindy Lynne Allen

 

            I have heard many times from people that they are on a “Spiritual Journey” and I found myself pondering exactly what this might mean. The implication of the word “journey” suggests a destination. Who would undertake the rigors of a long journey without the intention of eventually arriving at a desired location? So the first question I must ask myself is “What is my intended destination? and/or what do I hope to achieve by reaching this destination?

            One concept I have found helpful in my own so-called “journey” is to ask, “What is the focus of the problem, the puzzle, the activity, the message, etc.?” I rely on this concept a great deal when I’m listening to various preachers or speakers or reading their writings. If one is observant, the focus can frequently be found to be the exaltation of man or self. It may have God in the periphery, but the main focus is often self-interest. This can even appear as a focus on the devil and the great fight between good and evil. This still puts the focus on self because self can be seen as the “great hero of God” fighting on His side to defeat the devil. This places man in the position of the deciding factor and diminishes the omnipotence of God in the eyes of humanity.

            So, the question I ask again is, “What is the intended destination?” Often the destination desired is the alleviation of some type of personal pain. “What can God do for me?” This can be a decent first step because God does indeed wash away our personal pain through the forgiveness of sins and the establishment of a personal relationship with the Prince of Peace, but if this desire remains the sole focus, one can easily stop short of the grand goal and accept something less. Religion alone can pacify. Attending church and gaining the benefits of kind fellowship with others goes a long way toward soothing personal pain. The uplifting music, kind words from a pulpit, church work that causes one to feel that he or she is making a contribution all play their part in this truncated goal. But is this the ultimate purpose of the journey?

            There are many throughout history and continuing into our own time that have embarked on this quest and have come to diverse locations. The Buddha arrived at a place where he felt that a personal separation from conflict and established, consistent self-satisfaction was the great destination. Muhammad felt that his quest led to a place where seeking to gain the attention of Allah through whatever dramatic means necessary was the end of the journey. All the way back to the biblical description of Baal worship where people were satisfied through licentious forms of worship that provided them with much more temporary satisfaction than what the God of Israel had to offer shows the end result of some spiritual journeys. These were all certainly spiritual and certainly provided satisfaction or they would not have been so prevalent. Even today, the denial of God and the embrace of hedonism is for some the grand goal of their spiritual journey. They would deny the use of the word “spiritual,” but seeking satisfaction for their own human “spirit” is what they desire. 

            Arrival at this grand destination then requires that one carefully analyze the motivation of his or her own heart. This can be a difficult thing to do because each of us knows that our own hearts can be quite deceitful. If this analysis proves the deceitfulness of my heart, where do I turn? Think about the one who stretched out the heavens. Is that being not unthinkably wise and powerful? Is this Being powerful enough to make Himself known to those who truly seek after meaning in life? Isn’t this the crux of the “spiritual journey?” the meaning of life? To know one’s place in the universe and to know that the universe has order, to know that the One who provides the order is all powerful does alleviate personal pain. Complete trust as a cherished infant for her father brings peace. But just as the child does not define or dictate to the father what his nature or personality should be, we cannot do this to the creator of the universe. He has given us a Book that holds the answers to how to come to Him, and He has provided the avenue through the cross of Christ. Those who prefer the sensuality of alternatives are blinded to Him. Those who embark on this journey and allow their hearts to be purified through the washing of His Word will surely find Him.

 

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