When our son David was eleven years old, I took him on a twelve-mile hike. It was a wonderful father-and-son adventure—till we headed down and got lost on the backside of the mountain. We were alone, with no map and no cell service. We’d eaten all our food, and it was getting dark and cold. We were scared, and I was beating myself up about not being better prepared. But I kept praying to God for help. About an hour later, we heard the voices of two hikers who had a map and guided us down the mountain!
At times we all need a map with a big red star that says “You are here!” Drawing from decades of study and over seventy thousand hours of providing therapy and spiritual direction, my wife, Kristi, and I developed the CHRIST stages of faith that we are honored to introduce to you this week. This model emphasizes following Jesus in a journey of increasing emotional and spiritual health:
Following Jesus Christ begins with receiving His forgiveness and new life.
We grow in community with Christ-followers and by practicing spiritual disciplines.
We grow when we use our gifts to serve God and bless people.
Spiritual dryness or getting stuck is a hidden opportunity for deeper growth and joy.
We experience spiritual renewal through empathy, emotional growth, and longing for God.
Our greatest joy and impact is to act with the presence and power of the Spirit to serve others.
Our journey of the soul culminates with being united in the generous love of Jesus Christ.
Your progression through the CHRIST stages of faith is not linear but circular. It’s an up-and-down journey of emotional and spiritual growth in God’s grace in which we go back and forth between developmental phases. At any time we may revisit a previous phase for deeper learning or remain in one phase for many years (I John 2:12-14). This is not failure. This is how we progress. The CHRIST stages show the general path in our journey of increasing union with God.
Prayer: Father God, show me where I am on the CHRIST stages map and guide my steps. Open my heart to trust Your loving presence. Amen.