I call the first stage on the journey, the First Awakening. At some point you wake up to the reality of God. There's some need, some precipitating event, some intervention that unsettles you, inspires your search for God, or requires you to make sense of a spiritual experience you simply can't ignore any longer. It's as if you've awakened from a long night's sleep to sunlight streaming through your window and you wonder why you slept so late.
There's no telling how long this stage may last, but it generally ends when you've found your way into a community where you can enter the second stage which I call, "Believing and Belonging."
There are two ways you might get stuck in stage one and fail to move on. First, awakened now to the reality of God, you may not know what to do next--there's no one to guide you, no support for your journey. Second, touched by the Divine, you may become aware of the great contrast between God's holiness and your own life. You may become overwhelmed, even paralyzed, by your own sense of inferiority, unworthiness, and despair.
In both cases, you need a community of people who can extend God's grace and love to you. Through their ministry, you find courage and direction to rise up into the light that's come to you and embrace God's love in Christ and move forward toward the fullness of God.
To be continued . . .