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Hindrances to Your Spiritual Development
Strangely the soul is like a plant. Two organisms – one invisible, the other invisible – and yet they are very similar to each other.
They are very similar to each other in terms of growth or development, especially in the obstacles to their development.
A plant grows or develops with the help of sunlight, soil, freedom from predators, adaptation to climate and the help of human beings.
So similar factors also help in the development of the human spirit.
This article discusses obstacles to spiritual development. You can develop faster spiritually if these obstacles are overcome or eliminated in your life.
A plant needs sunlight. This is very fundamental to its growth. It cannot be kept indoors most of the time, unlike animals and human beings. Similarly, the human soul needs the sunlight of God’s Word.
The scriptures say that the Word of God is a light to the path of the righteous. The sun not only gives light, but also gives heat and warmth. The word of God also warms the heart of spiritual people.
Failure to expose the spiritual person to God’s Word is the number one obstacle to spiritual development. This exposure, like exposing the plant to sunlight, should be done every day.
Second, plants need soil to grow. Today we know that there are plants that are no longer planted on the ground. Some types of plants simply hang in the air. Other species grow in water or some type of liquid. But these also grow above ground and are fed by substances found naturally in the soil, such as nitrogen.
Similarly, human souls need the spiritual ground, the events that happen in their lives around them. They move in the middle of world events. Even the most closed hermit or monk is surrounded by air, vegetation, buildings, electromagnetic waves that make information about the events around him available at the touch of an electronic device. These events encourage the spiritual person to live, to pursue spiritual growth. After all, he develops spiritually so that he can be useful to others. The human soul that lives only for itself is more barren than the barrenest desert.
Thomas Merton’s life helps us reflect on the idea of the spiritual earth. He was a Trappist monk, a member of one of the strictest Orders in the Church. And yet he did not live alone and for himself. He thought about the world around him and wrote about many things he observed around him. For this reason he developed spiritually faster than his brother monks and left us a lot of spiritual food.
The second obstacle to spiritual development is forgetfulness of the world around us, a forgetfulness that is like uprooting a plant from the ground.
Third, a plant must adapt to a suitable climate. There are some plants, like bananas, which cannot grow in cold places where there is a lot of snow. Other plants cannot grow well in warm climates, such as apples.
Similarly, human souls need the right spiritual climate for their development. There were two periods in the history of the Christian church when there was an abundance of saints: the early centuries when there was persecution and the Middle Ages when Christian learning flourished in Europe.
The third obstacle to spiritual development is an inappropriate spiritual climate. When most people turn to material comforts as a way of life, their spiritual development is stifled by the things around them. But when more and more people react against materialism, more spiritual development will surely take place.
Fourth, plants can be hindered in their development by predators: human beings, animals or other plants. Some human beings cut plants indiscriminately. Animals graze plants. Other plants that grow faster and therefore consume more nutrients from the soil may grow too close to less fortunate plants, stunting their growth.
Similarly, there are spiritual predators, spirits who envy our human spiritual development and hinder it. The apostle Paul warns us that our real enemies are the spirits that wander in this world. They also hinder our spiritual development. They are the fourth obstacle to spiritual development.
Fifth, plants tended by a human gardener develop faster and better. Wild plants develop. But plants in a garden tended by a human being grow more.
Similarly, human souls who have good spiritual guides develop faster and better. We now have spiritual coaches guiding others on their spiritual path. Some of these coaches are good, others not so good. The fifth obstacle to spiritual development is the lack of a good spiritual leader or coach.
These are the obstacles to spiritual development: 1) lack of daily exposure to God’s Word; 2) forgetting the events around us; 3) unsuitable spiritual climate; 4) spiritual predators, spirits who envy our human spiritual development and hinder it; 5) lack of a good spiritual leader or coach.
It is up to you now to discern which of these obstacles are most effectively hindering your spiritual development. Then you look for ways to get rid of or minimize these obstacles.
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