This newsletter is an attempt to help you know where you are in your ‘journey of life’. For a more indepth study of the stages in life’s spiritual journey, read Bob Sorge’s book, The Fire of Delayed Answers. These stages really sum up our trek through life.
Stage One: You are enjoying God. Your life can best be summarized in Psalm 47:1-2:
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!  For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.
Your life is full of blessings but there is a desire for more of God.
Stage Two: A crisis hits! The refining process has begun. God uses three main areas to refine us: personal loss (business, financial, material), grief (loss of loved one), and physical illness. Most of us will experience only one at a time. Job was tested in all three areas at the same time. This can best be described in Psalm 88:3-8:
For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draws near to the grave.  I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength,  Adrift among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And who are cut off from Your hand.  You have laid me in the lowest pit, In darkness, in the depths.  Your wrath lies heavy upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah  You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out.
This is the lowest of the stages. There is a feeling of hopelessness. Depression, discouragement, and despair are common traits of this stage.
Stage Three: After a period of being mad at God, you begin to seek God to find answers. In this stage the believer will hover between Psalm 38 and Psalm 31:
Psalm 38:6-10 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.  For my loins are full of inflammation, And there is no soundness in my flesh.  I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.  Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You.  My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
There seems to be a wandering in the dark at this point. But, you begin to catch a faint light in the distance.
Psalm 31:14-17 But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me.  Make Your face shine upon Your servant; Save me for Your mercies’ sake.  Do not let me be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon You; Let the wicked be ashamed; Let them be silent in the grave.
The crisis is still intense but there is a glimmer of hope.
Stage Four: You begin to see why God is allowing this.
Job 23:10 But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
You still have no clue as to how long this will last or where He is taking you. You are still puzzled why you have no vision and your ‘purpose clause’ seems to be deleted. Many times this phase is accompanied by a removal from ministry, much the same as John the Baptist. But you know that God loves you, that He is right in everything that He does, that His purpose is right on time, and that Jeremiah 29:11 is still in force:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Stage Five: Happy days are here again! Deliverance comes. The prayers are answered. You suddenly step into Psalm 40:1-3:
I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.  He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.  He has put a new song in my mouth–Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.
And then you reach the pinnacle of victory. You are at Psalm 18:1-3:
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said: I will love You, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.
Well, where are you? God has a strategy. There is a reason for the ‘madness’ in your life. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Your test may last a week, a month, a year, 7 years, or 40 years. But you will always be in God’s hands, even if it does not seem like it. He loves you. Be patient and wait on Him.
We love yall.
Billy and Sheilah Dawsby