Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Unstuck, Part 2

This is on my blog instead of the Unstuck blog I had been authoring, because these are my words and my ideas; they are NOT commissioned by PCC.

As I mentioned yesterday, we just finished our "Stuck" series in which we presented five tools to get someone unstuck spiritually.  For people who are new to church, new to faith, who decided to follow Jesus and just didn't know how to start, I think the five tools will be extremely helpful.

But the people I've talked to over the years who are painfully, ashamedly, dishearteningly stuck are ones who are serving, reading the Bible, praying, giving, and participating in community.  They've obeyed the rules.  They've followed instructions.  And yet, they find themselves stuck.

A conventional response to such people is that there is an unconfessed sin, or there is an area of their lives that's off-limits to God, and that is the problem.  That certainly can be the problem.  That should be investigated.

But there are other possibilities, too.  I'd like to share some of what I've learned with the chance that maybe someone else out there will extend themselves some grace and keep their faith.

First, I recommend Renovare resources.  These have helped me experience Christian spirituality in new-to-me, rich ways.  James Bryan Smith and Richard J. Foster are two authors associated with Renovare who have been of significant help to me. 

I found myself in a place where some of the "popular" Christian Living books were just not reaching me where I was.  Those books have their place, and they are certainly effective for people; that's why they're popular.  But, if they're not working for you, try something else.  Try Smith and Foster, or Nouwen, or go for some classics like Practicing the Presence of God or writings by St. Augustine, C.S. Lewis, Thomas a Kempis, John of the Cross, etc.  We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.  We can lean on them and learn from them.  Sometimes when we're stuck and out of words for God and to God, we can use the time-tested, time-honored words of those who have gone before.  Sometimes these readings can catalyze us back to the spiritual life we are accustomed to.  Sometimes these readings (as has been my experience) take me to a place that feels more solid, more steady, more sacred.

And, if you're stuck, I recommend Barbara Brown Taylor's When God Is Silent.  In a time and place of Christianity when we hear preachers say, "God told me," "I heard God," almost every week, this book, by a preacher, acknowledges and speaks into another reality.

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