One of the ideas that is rampant in the evangelical/charismatic church is that spiritual growth only happens explosively. What I mean is that we think we have to attend that next big conference or hear that great speaker or have the big prophet speak a word over us or have that emotional experience in worship in order to get to where we’re going next.
Alan Creech says this: "The notion of how we are spiritually formed–that we have to have some big speaker to make us better Christians, or a big church, or feel something big going on so we can feel something is going on–is mistaken. Our spiritual formation is gauged by feelings and spectacular events. This is very dangerous, and it is rampant. We need to return to slow, journey-like growth."
Our friend Chip Judd says the same thing – change is a gradual process. It does not happen overnight or in a flash of revelation. Every significant change that has happened in my life has occurred slowly and gradually, and most of the time because I engaged in some kind of spiritual practice on a consistent basis that opened my heart to God in such a way that He was free to work in me, changing me from the inside out. Most of the time I wasn’t aware of the process as it was happening. I didn’t get butterflies in my stomach, my eyelids didn’t flutter, I didn’t have a vision or levitate or anything. But change happened nonetheless. Thomas Merton wrote this:
"There is no such thing as prayer in which ‘nothing is done’ or ‘nothing
happens,’ although there well may be a prayer in which nothing is
perceived or felt or thought."
Our desire to have spiritual growth happen quickly probably a reflection of our "quick-fix" culture. We want a drive-thru, fast-food spirituality, where we be changed quickly, with minimal cost. But it seems that change doesn’t work that way. Spiritual formation is a gradual process that will not happen unless we intentionally engage in a certain direction over a long period of time.