Sermons

Summary: Navigating through dry periods in your spiritual walk.

When We Hit the Wall

Series: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Brad Bailey, February 12, 2012

(Could show a video clip from Fat Boy that captures runner hitting the wall in a clearly metaphorical way)

Intro

Ever heard or used the phrase, “I’ve hit the wall”? What does it mean when people say that? (Solicit audience reaction) It means, “I’m at a point I don’t know how to get past… to get over.”

It is a natural part of the fact that faith is something that develops through seasons and stages. It’s an expanding experience throughout life…and sometimes we hit the wall in the process. We all realize that there are degrees of faith… various depths of faith.

There are transitions in life… from one stage of understanding the world to another. [1]

Illus – child thinks ‘Good people do good things’…or ‘Parents can stop bad from happening.’ These reflect something that we might consider to bear some level of truth… at a basic or simplistic level of understanding but they don’t reflect the whole of reality. Such beliefs will face a time in which life is not making sense…disorienting….until they are able to let some presumptions go… and enter a new way of trusting life beyond those assumptions.

Consider this assumption: “God will always keep me safe.” Is it true? Yes in an ultimate way but not in terms of the immediate safety we often presume.

It is natural as finite creatures in relationship to an infinite God, that we will come to points in which what we understand doesn’t fit into what we are experiencing.

We can hear this experience in…

The Example of Asaph

Asaph is one of the greatest worships… and wrote many of the Psalms in Scripture. He captures something of the wall in his own experience which is captured in Psalm 73. [2]

Psalm 73 (NIV)

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

> Here Asaph is describing a juncture in which he hit the wall… a point of being at a deep and defining sense of loss to understand how God could be at work. He cannot understand what he is experiencing… it doesn’t fit…he then considers that all his devotion may have been in vain… it becomes oppressive…but then he emerges from that isolating place… and realizes God is there for him… even though he may not understand.

Many have known such times in their journey.

In the 16th century a priest known as St. John of the Cross wrote about what he called the ‘Dark Night of the Soul.’ in which his initial poem narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to its union with God. The journey occurs during the night, which represents the hardships and difficulties the soul meets in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator. [3] That term, ‘a dark night of the soul’ is one which many have identified with… as it captures what we feel when we hit that wall.

Here are some of the aspects of what happens when find our souls lost in the ‘dark’ or..

Experiencing the “Wall”

• We experience a major crisis of loss or suffering that leads to disillusionment (health, financial, divorce, death of loved one, etc.)

This may come with a deep desire or dream that remains unfulfilled (about getting married… having children…. Succeeding at a particular job.)

This may come with disillusioning experience with spiritual community or leaders

Most often this comes when we are face with a new depth of suffering …that is greater than our current level of faith.

“The wall is what results when the size of your suffering exceeds the size of your faith.” [4]

This is why our faith is always going to be brought to new junctures. Suffering expands our ability to comprehend life. Suffering rounds us out. Suffering tests us and deepens us.

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