A spiritual awakening can happen to individuals or entire communities of people; what matters is that there is a marked increase in interest in knowing God. If you yourself are already a believer, think back to the early days of your walk with the Lord when you first felt the urge to really know Jesus, when your attitudes changed and your beliefs codified and your heart overflowed with love. That was your own personal spiritual awakening, but the experience itself is not unique.
Every day, countless people are moved by the Holy Spirit and energized to seek the truth of the universe and everything in it. These “awakenings” happen to anyone who has not fully experienced the glory of Christ.
There are many signs that someone is amid a spiritual awakening. They may experience feelings of disillusionment with the world or disappointment with the direction of their lives. They may have an unexplained longing for meaning, purpose, truth and love. They may exhibit an outpouring of emotion and an eagerness to live a cleaner, holier life. But the strongest sign of a spiritual awakening is the willing obedience to God. Awakened to a new reality, the man or woman who is born again wants to please and obey the God of love and mercy who breathed new life into their hearts.
Understanding the signs and stages of a spiritual awakening can help you identify those at the beginning of their faith journey who may need your help coming to Christ. If you’re personally experiencing this new, unexplained longing for truth and love in your life, this is also useful in helping you understand your own spiritual awakening and what it means for your relationship with God.
Stages of a Spiritual Awakening
Dave Ferguson, a lead pastor at Community Christian Church in Naperville, Illinois, studied the experiences of people coming to God. Although this is certainly not the most in-depth study ever done on spiritual awakenings, Mr. Ferguson’s findings are illuminating and helpful in explaining the stages of awakening to the Lord. In an article he penned for Christianity Today, Mr. Ferguson writes, “people pass through remarkably similar experiences on their journeys to God.”
- Longing – The first stage of a spiritual awakening is usually accompanied by the feeling that there’s got to be more to life. This could be a general longing for fullness in life or specific longing for love, purpose, meaning, etc. Whatever is felt to be lacking, the quest to satisfy these longings starts us on a journey that can turn us away from God (even though He gave us these longings in the first place).
- Regret – Pursuing worldly cures for the primitive longings we feel from God only leaves us feeling alone, directionless, and confused. In other words, pursuing God-given longings outside of a relationship with God leads to decisions and actions that cause regret. It’s easy for people to get stuck in this cycle of longing and regret and never experience the rebirth of a full spiritual awakening.
- Submission – After trying (unsuccessfully) to fulfill these longings without God, we finally acknowledge that something has to change and that we can’t do it on our own; we realize that Jesus is the way to God and all the peace and love and salvation that comes with submission to Him. Submitting to the Lord means reordering one’s priorities from self-pleasing to God-pleasing, or from living selfishly to living for God. This is awakening to life, both life on earth and eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Maturing in Your Faith
After submitting to the realization that God is both the means and the ends of our spiritual awakening, the next step is to grow in your faith (and of course enjoy all the fruits that come with a Christ-centered life). Whether you’re awakening yourself or helping someone who has recently accepted the Truth of the Word, here are some steps to take along the road to spiritual growth and maturity.
- Read, study, and discuss the Bible regularly
- Pray continually, for others as well as for yourself
- Engage in selfless acts of service that spread happiness and joy
- Meet with other Christians to share together in the Lord
- Share your story of salvation with believers and non-believers alike
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) sends and supports church planters around the United States and Canada to help shepherd those who are awakening to their need for salvation. If you want to help others experience the same joy the Lord has brought to your life, please consider a gift to Annie Armstrong Easter Offering to help equip missionaries to reach the unreached.