As we walk along our spiritual path, our lives and experiences move in cycles. First, there is the time of rapid advancement in which we have a lot of activity going on and our progress feels very real and measurable. These times can be experienced as a high because we are in the flow and we can feel it with every fiber of our being. We feel the Presence and Power of God in a tangible way. These are the times in which we are acutely aware of Divine activity in our lives.
Next, we reach a plateau. It is almost as if we need a rest from all of the activity of before. This is a time for reflection and renewing our commitment. Finally, there is the time of upheaval, when we start to question our progress and may even feel that we have taken backward steps. Often the spiritual seeker becomes mired in negative thoughts and fears, albeit temporarily. This is a time of tests but we must understand that these are the times when we learn the most about our faith and ourselves.
The plateau and upheaval periods are characterized by the feeling that our connection to God is gone. It is not that we are driven from God’s presence (I am driven far from your sight). God is never removed from us. The problem is that we do not recognize Spirit’s presence in our life. In the Bible, it is called waiting on the Lord. We find ourselves distracted by external perceptions that take our attention away from God (worship vain idols). When we function only from sense or intellectual consciousness, we are like one who is dead, for the world cannot give life. Only Spirit gives life.
Once we realize that sensual and intellectual distractions are not the solution, we can repent (change our mind). When we are not hearing from God in a way we understand, we must seek refuge in the only place of safety, in God’s hands. Reconnecting with God will restore a sense of stability and permanence again, and eventually a new understanding of our relationship to God (set my feet in a broad place). As we understand our true relationship with God, we realize we are protected through all seemingly trying situations.
We need progressive times, reflective times and times of testing, in order to strengthen our faith and build a sound foundation for further growth. The deeper our spiritual understanding the more difficult the tests become, but the times of advancement and of rest become longer to offset those tests. These cycles are replicated throughout nature and we can rest in knowing that cycles of growth, homeostasis and destruction are in the natural order.