Spiritual growth results from a series of difficult choices to step out boldly rather than retreat to familiar corners and to make bold moves rather than always taking the safe course. Genuine disciples of Christ do not let fear stop them from making the bold move that God is asking them to make. Instead, they embrace the uncertainty of change, the pain of suffering, the risk of sharing, and the inconvenience of real commitment, in order to make bold moves on behalf of the Lord.
For the seven weeks of the Easter season, we have been inviting you to reflect on a bold move that you could and probably should make in your life. Each week in our bulletin we have offered a few practical tips for getting ready for that move. As we come to the end of the series this week, we recap all the tips we’ve been suggesting. Here are the six clues to connecting with your next step in faith.
1. Stay Connected With People
Despite the fact that much of our happiness results from our connections with other people, the levels of chronic loneliness in our culture are staggeringly high and continue to rise. Get rooted in a spiritual community or a small group of believers who will help you think through your next step and hold you accountable to take it, because staying connected to others will help you stay on course.
The apostles began the great adventure of spreading the faith by sharing everything in common. They gathered to comfort each other and wait for inspiration to make their next move. For two thousand years, Christians have found their power in assembling and praying together on Sundays.
But we also need to assemble in smaller groups to share our lives with people we have come to trust. One bold move you could make is to spend more time with the loving people of our cozy faith community. Explore the small groups section of our website or contact us to start one of your own. All you need is three or more trusted friends.
2. Stay Connected With Faith
When Jesus appeared to his disciples gathered in fear behind locked doors, he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” and “was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Worry and doubt in our troubling world often are exaggerated by a lack of understanding about faith.
To have the courage to make a truly bold move in our lives, spend the time and energy to grow in faith. Dust off the Bible and start reading it, as well as other spiritual books, because staying connected to your faith will help you find your way.
3. Stay Connected With God
Without reliable power, transportation, and utilities, developing nations struggle to achieve economic success. The same is true of our spiritual lives. Without a strong spiritual infrastructure, we will remain stuck in an impoverished relationship with God. Daily spiritual habits keep us connected to God by helping us to stay focused on what is eternal.
But the foundation of our faith should never be rooted in guilt, shame, or fear. Establishing a positive spiritual rhythm to the day, making prayer, quiet time, and Sunday Mass attendance something you like to do, and choosing one daily spiritual activity you actually enjoy will help you stay connected with God and make your bold move easier.
4. Stay Connected With Your Future
Most of us are ashamed by something we have done in the past, and we often are prevented from moving forward by the unforgiving chains we have imposed on ourselves. But “God is greater” than whatever our hearts condemn us of having done wrong (1 John 3:20).
You can learn to forgive yourself by openly admitting your faults, reflecting on the vastness of God’s mercy, giving yourself the same advice you would give to someone else in a similar situation, and realizing that refusing God’s mercy also is a serious sin. When we allow ourselves to be bound by the past, we will never be able to move into the future. After all, you can’t make a bold move until you let yourself off the hook.
5. Stay Connected To The Big Picture
Despite our good intentions, we often become mired in our comfortable habits, routines, and circles of friends. Whether it’s the people we associate with or our views on certain topics, sometimes we are prevented from moving forward by not being able to see more broadly.
If we want to know God, we must move beyond negative perspectives, cultivate unexpected relationships, broaden our horizons with new endeavors, and begin to see and love the world more like God sees and loves it. After all, if the range of your vision remains small, you won’t be able to see all the bold moves you could be making.
6. Stay Connected To The In-Between
Most of us are waiting for something. Waiting can be painful, but while we’re waiting for God to act, he’s actually helping us to grow in maturity and become more and more like Christ. Waiting is the womb in which spiritual greatness is formed, and those who wait will not be disappointed.
You can learn to delay gratification by gradually increasing your spiritual focus, remembering the wins in your life, and realizing that the waiting will not be forever. One day, we will see that, while we were waiting, God was loving us and preparing us for a bold move.
So, what is your bold move going to be?
Father Roger Gustafson