Orientation / Disorientation: Where Am I & Where Is God?
Ng Wee Keong
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am…”
Spiritual success is when we embrace the fact that God is going to make us who He intended us to be, to do the things at the time He planned for us to do. Let me elaborate by introducing the three phases of spiritual life:
Orientation: We are in a place where things are secure and life makes sense.
Disorientation / Dislocation: Our world has fallen apart; we are in a pit.
Reorientation: We realise God has lifted us out of the pit, we are filled with gratitude and we are more aware about our lives and our God.
Which phase are you in right now? How many “cycles” of these phases have you experienced? I believe we will go through many cycles of these three phases as long as we are alive and striving to be spiritual.
But it is not a bad thing. In fact, it is God’s plan for us to learn two things:
Abandon self-will, and
Serve Him for who He is, not for the good feelings.
When things are going well for us, it is easy to serve God or love Him. But when things are going badly and/or we feel lousy about ourselves, that is the real test.
“All deepened life is deepened suffering.”
- Friedrich von Hügel
“God instructs the heart not through ideas but through pains and contradictions.”
– Jean-Pierre de Caussade
It is God’s plan that we experience uncertainties, losses and brokenness of all kinds. Everyday, people are going through cancers, diseases, deaths, addictions, loneliness, wayward children, irresponsible parents, divorces, adultery, imprisonment due to criminal offences, etc. Yet God has a plan through all this!
But now, this is what the Lord says — He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life."
(Isaiah 43: 1-4)
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43: 18-19)
Some historical background: The Israelites were a people who has experienced many cycles of the three phases of spiritual life - orientation (when life was comfortable and they fell into sin), disorientation /dislocation (when God punished them and they cried out to God), then reorientation (when God delivered them). At this point, the Assyrians had sacked Israel, and the Babylonians had sacked Judah. Isaiah was prophesying to the people that the Persians (under Cyrus) will defeat the Babylonians and restore the land to the Israelites!
What thoughts and feelings might cross the mind of Isaiah’s audience? Not again! How many times must we suffer?!
Isaiah 43:1-4 promises that God will protect His people no matter what. But Isaiah 43:18-19 says God will make a way in the "wilderness" and the "wasteland", i.e. the people will be returning to a wasteland decimated by centuries of war! If God’s way is through wilderness and wastelands, will we be thanking God or getting angry at Him? Will we pray “Your will be done” or will we sulk until we get the outcome we wanted?
What is SPIRITUAL SUCCESS to you?
Think about the likes of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos and even our Lord Jesus... how successful were they in the eyes of the world? They left their place of comfort, and received only rejection and even death! Not many of their hearers accepted their message, and some had few followers. Talk about not meeting the key performance indices (KPIs) of success...
Like I said at the beginning: God is going to mould us into who He wants us to be, and to do the things He wants us to do in His time. In this way, we abandon our false image of God, training ourselves, and clarifying our view / image of Him. This is for me the definition of spiritual success.
May we learn to not be resentful or fearful of periods of disorientation in our lives. Get the wise counsel of trusted, spiritual friends so we don’t think ourselves into a corner. But the most important thing is to stick with God. We need to learn to abide (accept and act in accordance with a rule or a decision) in God’s Word.
Personally, I recommend we spend five to ten minutes a day in silence and solitude, so that we can let the Word speak to us. We may meditate on one verse (e.g., Psalm 90:17, Psalm 37:7, Psalm 27:3-5), and begin or end in just sitting still in silence. Pray to only wait on God, and let go of our own will in our lives; to let God’s will and purpose fill us.
I pray this may help us change our perspective of our current dark times and trust God that the light is indeed ahead of us all.
Ng Wee Keong
After serving in the full time ministry in Central Christian Church for 25 years, Wee Keong stepped out on faith to seek outside employment and continue his adventure with God. He is now doing mediation work and considers his salvation, his wife and sons and his spiritual experiences the greatest gains in his life.