Continued from a previous series of posts on the stages of spiritual growth . . . In Stage Five, you are now moved by the Spirit outward again in love, a love that compels you into an experience of abundance you've not know up to this point. In the past, it was mostly your head that directed you--"shoulds" and "oughts" kept you moving forward, caring for others, keeping your practices. But now, in Stage Five, your heart directs you, and your head serves your heart of love. There is, as Jesus promised, a "stream of living water welling up inside you" (John 7.38).

In this stage, spiritual guidance is necessary to help you discern what this Power within your is impelling you to be and do. You sense God's greater purpose for you, but what exactly that means may not be clear to you.

You will still suffer in this stage as much (or even more) that you did before. But now you draw strength from the unfathomable resources of the Spirit, and from your real experience of ongoing union with Christ. You may even sense an "unceasing prayer" (1 Thessalonians 5.17) beginning to form in your heart--an expression of communion with the Trinity that flows within you without your effort.

Lastly, you may find yourself struggling with a nagging frustration despite the presence of God's love in your heart. Your love for God and others, combined with your commitment to God's righteousness and justice, may lead you to do things that are perceived as odd, dangerous, and sometimes counter to the mainstream of the society around you. In addition, you may be disinterested in things that interest most other people, and your passions and interests will probably not be shared by most of those around you. This can lead to a sense of loneliness and isolation even in the midst of a strong community.

In this stage, you will need to seek out others who are emerging from Stage Four and the Wall, people who share your experiences and who can serve as companions as you journey deeper into the fullness of Christ.

To be continued . . .