I am still mulling over the amazing definition of spiritual development from our recent interview with Dr. Eugene Roelkepartain:
“Spiritual development is, in part, a constant, ongoing, and dynamic interplay between one’s inward journey and one’s outward journey.”
I think that’s an amazing and profound statement, but I’m still trying to figure out what, exactly, that means for me personally and as a person engaged in the spiritual development of others.
One thing this suggests to me is that, if this is true, then everyone’s spiritual development will happen differently. After all, everyone has a different inward and outward journey. If spiritual development has to do with the interplay between those two already unique personal experiences, then it’s amazing that there’s as much useful guidance for spiritual development as there is!
When I imagine the space between the inward journey and the outward journey where the interplay happens, I come up with all of these images from the Bible (which says something about my inward and outward journeys): I see a pillar of fire, the wilderness, the Holy of Holies, the cloud of witnesses. That interplay is a mysterious place, in my mind built mostly on metaphor, without much that I can articulate in a straightforward way. Again, if this is accurate, then it suggests that working with people in their spiritual development means being with them at exactly the moment when they can’t explain what they mean, when they can’t state with confidence what they believe and why. It may, in fact, be the area that looks least like spiritual growth and most like confusion and doubt.
Furthermore, this definition of spiritual development reminds me that my perspective is limited to my own experiences. and that my own spiritual development, of which I feel so certain now, is by no means over. And I dare say that’s true for each of us. Who knows where our lives will take us? And with new encounters, new experiences, new insights, the truths we take to be rock-solid may become uncertain under our feet. I pray that God may keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, so when those changes come, we may be comforted in knowing this is just another step on the journey closer to God.