Journey is a prominent biblical picture for the way of Faith, from its beginning to its fulfillment. Throughout the Scriptures, God calls individuals and communities on journey with him.
- God called Abraham to leave his home and journey in faith to an unknown land (Genesis 12:1-2).
- God called the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, through the wilderness and into the Promised Land.
- God called his people to make annual journeys to Jerusalem. There they would reconnect their lives with God’s covenant Story as they celebrated the great feasts of their faith. The “Pilgrim Psalms” (Ps 120-134) give voice to the prayers of these pilgrims along their journey up to Jerusalem.
- Jesus tells of a son who journeyed to a far country where he engaged in self-indulgent living only to come to his senses and journey back home, where he was welcomed by his father (Luke 15:11-32).
- The Gospels reveal Jesus journeying from Galilee through Palestine and then to Jerusalem to be crucified and resurrected.
- The movement Jesus launched came to be known as “The Way” (Acts 18:25), with our Lord Jesus himself being the pioneer (Heb 12:2).
Our spiritual journeys occur in seasons or phases. One of the great church fathers, Irenaeus, affirmed this when he said, “The Creator is always the same, but those who are created must pass through a beginning and through a middle course, a growth, and progression. And it is for this progress…that God has formed them according to the word of Scripture…” (Bruce Demarest, Seasons of the Soul, p. 13)
This progression is evident in the life of Simon Peter (the “Dusty Disciple”) he walks with Jesus through the journey of discipleship. Along “the way”, Simon experiences seven stages or conversion points, representing the action of God in calling him forward: tugged, touched, teamed, trained, tested, tempered, and entrusted. These stages are summarized below and graphically pictured in the Journey of Discipleship Chart.
Seven T’s (Conversion Points) along the Journey of Discipleship
The process by which God the Holy Spirit woos us toward a place of receptivity, a place where we can begin to recognize and welcome Jesus into our lives. How Simon was tugged by the Holy Spirit toward Jesus: see John 1:35-42.
The personal, holy and gracious encounter with God that leads to our confession of sin, liberation from guilt and turning from self to Jesus as Lord. How Jesus touched Simon: Lk 5:1-11.
God’s ‘basic training’, when a disciple first gets grounded in a vision of the kingdom of God as revealed by Jesus and the Scriptures, and in the fundamentals of Christian belief, behavior and belonging. How Jesus trained Simon: Mt 4:22 – 7:29.
As we are rooted in God’s Word, we become increasingly aware of God’s plan for his Church and world, and our call to participate in that plan through committed participation in the worship and work of his church. How Jesus teamed Simon: Luke chapters 8 and 9, John 13
The Testing stage of discipleship is the “dark valley” when we experience faith and life as particularly difficult, all the while God seems less present than he was in the past. How Jesus tested Simon: Mt 16:13-24; John 18:12-27.
The Tempered stage involves looking back at a season of pain and difficulty through the lens of God’s provision and deliverance. How Jesus tempered Simon: Mk 16:7; Lk 24:34; John 20:1-10.
The enTrusted stage is outflow of a life that has been shaped by the faithfulness of God in the peaks and valleys of the journey, a life which bears fruit in an unconditional delight in God, a passion to invest one’s life in the mission of God, and a sacrificial, “no strings attached” love for others. How Jesus entrusted Simon: John 21:1-19; Acts 1:1 – 2:4.
“Rarely does spiritual growth advance in a straight line toward heaven; it’s more like an upward spiral. The Christian spiritual journey involves starting and stopping, digressions, and sometimes even reversions to previous stages. While God invites us to grow and mature, we retain the freedom to resist his gracious call…” (Bruce Demarest, Seasons of the Soul, p. 13)
Questions for prospective travelers:
- Where are you in the journey of discipleship?
- Are you being tugged by him? …touched? …trained?
- What “next right step” is God calling you to take in this journey? We are not called to make this journey alone. With whom will you walk?
- For an intentional way to walk this journey with others, consider joining or forming a Discipleship Triad
- Click here for an online version of the Discipleship Triad Guide, Volumes I and II.
updated by Paul Dugan on August 18, 2016