Continued from previous posts: A mature and involved Christian once came to me privately and asked, "Isn't there more to the Christian life than this?" Here was an elder, active in ministry, highly competent at work, well-established and respected, but who came to a point where all these things tasted like straw, felt empty, no longer life giving.

Too often those who begin to experience this arid, desert like experience in their spiritual lives ignore it and keep doing what they're doing until they just run out of steam. Sometimes they find another cause that energizes them, or they become angry and frustrated about things at church or the denomination, and this too energizes them. But this new energy dissipates after a while and unless they find something new to excite them for awhile, that nagging sense of emptiness returns. Others figure they're facing some kind of burnout, and they drop out of commitments that no longer nourish or satisfy and they find themselves drifting spiritually.

Too few explore their experience with a pastor or spiritual friend or director. If they did, and that friend was seasoned enough to discern the work of the Holy Spirit in the person's life, they'd learn that rather than a problem to get through by working harder, or burnout that requires them to drop out, what they're experiencing is a genuine sign of an invitation from God to move into a new stage of spiritual growth: stage four, or what I call "Second Awakening."

To be continued . . .