Theoquest | 21 Steps: Step 1

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Step 1: Recognizing Our Needs

We recognized the spiritual emptiness of our lives and admitted our powerlessness, by our own strength, to correct our personal shortcomings.

What we have is not enough; if it were, we would never seek. The soul has an embedded hunger that things cannot sate, and which knows its incompleteness apart from God. The multiform variety and imagined obligations of life offer continual distraction, and often tragedy alone brings us face to face with our souls’ deepest needs, impelling us to seek help from beyond.

In grief, misfortune, distress, or tribulation, obvious insufficiency impels us to look beyond ourselves for strength. But why not avoid that suffering by laying up provisions before the winter storms arrive, when ice blocks the harbor and hunting is hard? Why not fill our larders with survival stores, which we need even now?

Who has not been prisoner to his own moods? Who has never felt force-marched, lock-step, down unwelcome paths, driven by dark lusts and fears to ends he hates? The forbidding cavern yawns–the smallest misstep sends us careening down its crumbling walls. But few seek help until convinced they cannot arrive under their ship’s own power, feet on the bridge and hands on the helm. Too often we must first shipwreck, clutching cold ice while our ship of dreams sinks beneath the numbing waters.

The spiritual path begins when we first seek to make sense of life and our place in it. God longs to make himself known to us, but he intrudes not unbidden; we first must tire of emptiness. If circumstances are too comfortable perhaps only tragedy can shake us loose and make us feel unease with things as they are, and help us recognize how little we are able, by ourselves, to make sense of our world.

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The Father is not in spiritual hiding, but so many of his creatures have hidden themselves away in the mists of their own willful decisions and for the time being have separated themselves from the communion of his spirit and the spirit of his Son by the choosing of their own perverse ways and by the indulgence of the self-assertiveness of their intolerant minds and unspiritual natures. 5:1.10

The keys of the kingdom of heaven are: sincerity, more sincerity, and more sincerity. All men have these keys. Men use them--advance in spirit status--by decisions, by more decisions, and by more decisions. 39:4.14

Spiritual progress is predicated on intellectual recognition of spiritual poverty coupled with the self-consciousness of perfection-hunger, the desire to know God and be like him, the wholehearted purpose to do the will of the Father in heaven. 

Spiritual growth is first an awakening to needs, next a discernment of meanings, and then a discovery of values. 100:2.1&2

"Ganid, the man was not hungry for truth. He was not dissatisfied with himself. He was not ready to ask for help, and the eyes of his mind were not open to receive light for the soul. That man was not ripe for the harvest of salvation; he must be allowed more time for the trials and difficulties of life to prepare him for the reception of wisdom and higher learning." 132:7.2

Only those who feel poor in spirit will ever hunger for righteousness. Only the humble seek for divine strength and crave spiritual power. 140:5.8

"[Job] ascended to those spiritual heights where he could sincerely say, 'I abhor myself'; then was there granted him the salvation of a vision of God." 148:6.3

Never hesitate to admit failure. Make no attempt to hide failure under deceptive smiles and beaming optimism. It sounds well always to claim success, but the end results are appalling. Such a technique leads directly to the creation of a world of unreality and to the inevitable crash of ultimate disillusionment.

Success may generate courage and promote confidence, but wisdom comes only from the experiences of adjustment to the results of one's failures. Men who prefer optimistic illusions to reality can never become wise. Only those who face facts and adjust them to ideals can achieve wisdom. . . . Those timid souls who can only keep up the struggle of life by the aid of continuous false illusions of success are doomed to suffer failure and experience defeat as they ultimately awaken from the dream world of their own imaginations. 160:4.7&8

"What I am telling you is well illustrated by two men who went into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself: 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unlearned, unjust, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven but smote his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'" 167:5.1

Selfish men and women simply will not pay such a price for even the greatest spiritual treasure ever offered mortal man. Only when man has become sufficiently disillusioned by the sorrowful disappointments attendant upon the foolish and deceptive pursuits of selfishness, and subsequent to the discovery of the barrenness of formalized religion, will he be disposed to turn wholeheartedly to the gospel of the kingdom, the religion of Jesus of Nazareth. 195:9.7

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