Continued from a previous series of posts on the stages of spiritual growth . . . The fifth of the six stages that characterize our spiritual growth as Christians is marked by a new turn outward toward others and the creation. In this stage, your life expresses an integration of your growth so far, a deep rootedness in your intimacy with God through the Spirit.

In the previous stage, Stage Four, you turned inward after years of active and outward service and leadership (Stage Three). You were seeking more of God than you'd known before--a real experience of encounter with God that neither doctrine nor evangelical service could give you. Doctrine and service were vitally important for your journey, but there came a point when crisis or spiritual hunger made you deeply aware of an emptiness within that nothing but God could satisfy.

Your turn inward--toward more of Christ--was no easy path. Once determined to seek Christ above all things, you collided with "the Wall" of your sin and self will; you came face to face with a deep, inner resistance to God. But if you participated in this experience as a gift of God's severe mercy; if you deepened your spiritual practices of intimacy with God through prayer and meditation (or contemplation); and if you partnered with a spiritual director or guide who helped you face your sin, confront your demons, and who held you in Christ; then you emerged into a new dawning in your Christian experience. Stage Five is this dawning--it is your emergence into a morning bright with the light of Christ.

To be continued . . .