Severe power outages crippled the Philippines in our first year there. Power outages continued in our city as more generating stations were built elsewhere. A geothermal plant in the mountains above us generates our island’s power. The steam is harvested from natural vents from a dormant volcano, a continual source of available energy. And yet, the power outages continued because of inefficient infrastructure to deliver the electric current. They were called brownouts because the power fluctuated so low that light bulbs and fans had too little power to run. Just before the outage, lights would dim and flicker before going out. When the lights go out it is pitch dark. The entire city is plunged into darkness so there’s no diffused light from other sources. The darkness is intense and disorienting. Until we had automatic emergency lights (with battery backup), everyone scurried around searching for a flashlight or emergency lamp to conquer the darkness. Even when an emergency lamp was found, it was typically uncharged and useless. Imagine this scenario with babies and young children frightened by the sudden darkness, crying, even screaming, as the search for light went on. Confusion reigned!
My spiritual journey was similar—a lot of confusion. Of course, not everyone gets thrown out of a church and called the devil,[i] but everyone deals with misunderstanding. A spiritual journey can be like groping for a flashlight in the darkness. When the flashlight is found or the light turned on, it’s much easier to see everything. All spiritual journeys aren’t dramatic, but can be disorienting.
Well-intentioned believers who spout Christian clichés contribute to some of the confusion, but they’re not the only reason for misunderstanding. When a person doesn’t know the way out of confusion, and can’t see beyond the darkness, help is needed. Until light and direction come, the way seems hidden.
Spiritual truth is a mystery to those who don’t understand it. That was my problem, and it’s a dilemma everyone faces. The Bible uses words like mystery and revelation, so it’s no wonder it seems like a mysterious book. The Greek word for revelation means a mystery that is revealed—it was hidden before, but is now revealed. God is a mystery to many, but He’s not mysterious. He is the One who reveals Himself and His truth, and desires all people to know Him personally and know His loving kindness.[ii]
But how does God reveal Himself and His truth? This question is at the heart of the spiritual journey—understanding the mystery of God and the mystery of the Gospel. God provided three primary means for people to know Him, with people the vector for all three—nature (creation), the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God.
The work of creation was not complete until people were created, then God rested. Human beings, guided by God’s Spirit, recorded the Scriptures. God placed His Spirit into people who trusted in Him through His Son—after he sent His Son to live among people.[iii]
What's your spiritual journey been like? Do you feel you've arrived somewhere...or are you well on your way? How has God intersected with you in your life?
If you have a personal relationship with God already and are assured in your heart about eternity, look for someone to share it with, look for someone who may still be finding there way and be a light to them.
This is another excerpt from my book to be published soon. I'm also writing from the Philippines where I'll be doing some ministry for 3 weeks. Thanks for reading! ______________________________________
[ii] References— 1 Cor 2: 10, 14; 2 Pet 1:19–21; Acts 2:38-39; Ezek 18:23, 32; 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9
[iii] References— Gen 1:26-31; 2 Pet 1:19–21; Gal 4:4-7