I was sitting in a class with a couple hundred other young ministry minded people under, who I would consider, one of the greatest professors this world has ever known when this idea first hit me. Howard Hendricks was teaching us how to study the Bible in way that was foreign to nearly everyone in the room. He was doing it in a way that made that 90 minute class feel like less than 10 minutes. Prof, as he preferred to be called, lived a faithful life impacted hundreds of thousands with his passion to mine the depths of scripture. Early in the class Prof shared this thought with us, ‘Most people stop just short of significant breakthrough.’
God often provides us snippets of wisdom which we carry throughout our lives with broad impact and application. This was one of those moments for me… and a piece of wisdom that I observed showing up in so many areas of life. Prof’s token of wisdom has definitely proven true in the application of Bible study, but my pastoral years have seen it proven true in our spiritual journey’s as well.
Our lives are marked by points of spiritual breakthrough. There are countless reasons and intervals of time which correspond to these breakthroughs. I’ve seen some who approach these spiritual seasons because of loss or suffering, others who have because of victory, achievement, or blessing, and others from a long season of the mundane. Regardless of the causes or the path that has led to this place there seems to be a common barrier to breakthrough in all of them.
Much like Hendricks shared, most people get stuck just short of spiritual breakthrough. What is that sticking point? It is amazingly simple yet profoundly difficult for us today. The answer is simply asking for help. The authenticity, vulnerability, and humility that it demands to ask for help becomes the Mount Everest of our spiritual journeys more times than we would like to confess.
We run down the path of gospel transformation and then find ourselves at a crucial fork in the road which will take us down the path of complacency or dynamic growth. In that moment we feel those proverbial voices on each shoulder, one saying that we need to reach out and ask for help, and the other saying that we must not let anyone know what we are going through. As I’ve written before in The Rub of Repentance in Suburbia, our culture communicates to us that we must value other people’s perception of us over our own personal growth and transformation. So, we stare at the fork… confused by the voices we hear… paralyzed on our journey… and yet possibly only one conversation away from spiritual breakthrough.
This is not a description of the minority. This reality characterizes all of us at moments in our lives. God created his Church intentionally and made it a necessary aspect of our spiritual growth because He knows our hearts and knows our tendencies. He knows that we cannot journey through life alone. So, in His great love He created His Church as a body of people all with different gifts, strengths, and passions. Most important, His church is made of people just like you and I that struggle through life to stay on the path of gospel transformation. He has provided the help we need around us and has gifted those people to support us in our areas of need. But, He asks for us to be faithful enough to take that step of vulnerability and ask for help. I would like to encourage you by saying that the greatest barrier to your spiritual breakthrough is most likely the fear of asking for help. Take a deep breath and make the bold move of asking for help from those with whom God has surrounded you.
Have there been moments in your life when reaching out and asking for help has pushed you over the barriers you were facing?