The stages of the Christian life aren’t very well explored. We like to make a big deal out of the transition from unsaved to saved but don’t ever really parse what comes after that, and by not parsing what comes after there’s a lot of confusion among those who venture down the path past the gates of Grace into the deeper realms of the Spirit.
This means we’re all sort of left to self-discovery, walking blind, trying to follow the path we can’t really see, hoping to hear other voices along the way and avoid getting torn up by the thorns that line the road. Though, we avoid the thorns because of our already bloodied legs and a desire to run rather than walk or stumble.
The pull of the Spirit before us brings us to discover Christ, and in discovering Christ our eyes are opened to mysteries and newfound peace and tastes of heavenly fruit. Sometimes this is coupled with physical blessings, more often it is accompanied by being thrust down newly opened paths. Much like going to a recruiter some are thrown into quicker routes of activity, seeing the results of their faith sooner, others are picked from among the ranks to train more, endure hardship, find light only after darkness, and experience the depths of hell so as to best understand the heights of heaven. These latter God places on a different path, with a heavy hand pushing and prodding and provoking and preventing.
The blessings expected of faith that others see, such people do not see, and often aren’t even allowed the blessings that even those outside of the faith are given as normal parts of life. Such people are plucked like brands from the fire, given gifts and then given inner drives which don’t allow them to settle. God sends grace, but also allows evil spirits to never let one rest or be content in just any circumstance, whether in career, or in spirituality, or in relationships. We are drawn by light and whipped by darkness, ever coming to terms with the Divine “Yes!” and the Divine “No!”
Where we don’t hear the whispers and wander down darkened paths we are forcibly pulled aside and pointed right, all to the point where it almost seems there are no choices in life. We go where God allows us to go. While others can explore the range of roads, we find roadblocks all around, with the Divine “Yes!” being that which works out, and finds full agreement within and without. This leaves us with all the kinds of “No!” we hear, with our immaturity at first making our lives like a constant contest of bumper cars, crashing here and crashing there, finding the path only by running into things.
Maturity is the discernment of hearing the no and reacting to it before we hit, the bumper cars become a spiritual sonar. Like bats we do not see but we respond to what we know, hearing not looking in the darkness to forge the paths that provide life and sustenance and fullness and peace while avoiding the dangers that bring death and suffering and misery. We react to what we can’t see, reacting differently than those who can see, the Spirit being our eyes and our guide.
To discern the whispers and to hear the path takes sometimes brutal lessons and reforming of our expectations, our desires, our senses, our loves and most of the deeper parts of us.