Preparation for camping would involve planning the route; deciding on places that would be good for camping; packing tents, sleeping bags, food, and other supplies; consulting maps of the camping area; and in all ways prepare for a safe, enjoyable trip. To prepare for the spiritual journey of life there needs to be more dilegence than for a camping trip. There are far more obstacles in life than in a camping weekend. Let's look at the preparations necessary to make our spiritual lives successful....
The Purpose of a Successful Journey
We are spiritual beings. Although it would appear to the uninitiated eye that we are physical beings and that, to some, we have spirits or souls; the fact is our true nature is spiritual. We were created by God who is a Spirit and he created us in his image. A brief way of expressing this thought is, "Humans are spirits that have souls and that live in physical bodies." The success of the spiritual life journey is to reconnect with God who created us so that we will have a relationship with him and live forever. A very serious problem arises when we limit our thoughts regarding relationship with God to the time after our physical death. When we think that the most important spiritual thing or religious thing is assuring that we will go to heaven when we die we seriously miss the point. God's nature is love. He created us so that he would have more to love. He want a relationship right now that is based on love and the fact that we go to heaven really is because we have to go somewhere to be with him so that he can continue to love us.
The Path of the Journey
It is thought by some that there are many paths that all lead to the same place. For about 6 thousand years God has been seeking to re-establish the relationship that was lost when the first man, Adam, sinned. God's word to Adam when he was banished from the Garden of Eden was for the purpose of help and salvation; even as Adam and Eve were sent out of Paradise. If Adam had been allowed to remain in a state based upon knowledge rather than life no hope for the race of mankind would have been possible. So God began to develop the plan that ultimately would lead to the coming of his Son, Jesus, into the world.
There is no path that God could have taken more remarkable than the path he chose from the very point of creation. It was a possibility that Adam would have obeyed and the human race develop without disobedience. In order to have a true love relationship with mankind we must be free to choose to love God. That would mean that we are also free to not love God. Since the evil one had been thrown down to the earth God knew that temptation to disobey would be part of the picture. So right from the beginning God planned on becoming fully acquainted with us by experiencing us in the flesh. If we had not sinned, Jesus still would have come. But when we did sin, the purpose of his coming was a remedy from sin.
The Ultimate Destination of the Journey
To become fully like Jesus. The love relationship between Father and Son is awesome to contemplate. Our perspective while meditating on the life of Jesus as presented in the Gospels is most important. To consider such readings as the gathering of information without application to one's life causes us to fall far short of the possibilities. The Apostles (the Twelve) walked intimately with Jesus and observed his life, teachings, and actions first hand. They were empowered to cast out demons, heal the sick, and preach the good news to the poor. They witnessed Jesus forgive sins, heal the paralyzed, and raise the dead. When Jesus fed the 5 thousand men plus women and children (probably a total of about 20 thousand) from 5 loaves and 2 small fish there were 12 baskets of fragments left over after all were filled. Even so the disciples were surprised and frightened when Jesus approached them walking on the water. They had not considered that if Jesus could feed the 5 thousand men he could certainly walk on water.
Nearing the completion of his mission Jesus assured his followers that he would not leave them alone. He commanded that they wait in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. The transformation of the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost was absolutely miraculous. They were accused of being drunk because they were heard to be praising God in every language of the people gathered in Jerusalem for this festival. When Peter got up to explain the events as the outpouring of the long prophesied Holy Spirit his sermon was eloquent and persuasive. Gone was the fearful, impulsive, braggart who was more likely to go fishing than fulfill what spurted from his mouth; and now appeared a leader who was powerful, patient, and courageous. He had become like Jesus. Peter was empowered by Holy Spirit and now could preach the good news to the poor, heal the sick, and raise the dead.
Difficulties of the Journey
If you have come this far in the contemplation of the spiritual journey we are considering I am certain that you have now encountered a barrier that was discussed on the home page. I am quite certain that you are thinking, "I could never be like Jesus," or "That might have been possible for Peter and the other Apostles, but they had been with Jesus." This thinking is quite common. It is quite normal. It is a barrier. Specifically, this barrier could be labeled unbelief or doubt. It is this barrier, and others like it, that keep us from progressing in our spiritual journey. We have come up against something that must be surmounted for the journey to continue successfully.