Back in August I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Alexander Shaia to record this week’s podcast episode. I was going to release it in November just before the holiday season, but I just feel like it needs to be released now.
(I’ll tell you why in a moment.)
Dr. Shaia wrote a book called “Heart and Mind: The Four-Gospel Journey For Radical Transformation”, which is a 400-page masterpiece that is overflowing with more wisdom than I I could possibly fit into a small blog post like this. Real quick, though, the book describes how there are 4 stages in every human life that we often go through not necessarily once, but often times again and again and again ...
1. Facing Change
2. A Time of Suffering
3. Receiving Joy
4. Maturing into Service
In short, we enter seasons of life that bring about or call us into times of great change ...
A move across country.
The loss of a loved one.
A new job.
The birth of a child.
We enter into the change and then almost immediately face turbulent seas - storms come upon us, the waters get rough, the wind blows, and it feels as if all hope will be lost.
We begin to think things like ...
I can’t do this.
I’ll never make it.
Has God left me?
Will it ever get better?
Eventually, though, that terror gives way to hope as the sun peaks through the clouds to show us the way ...
The storm stops raging.
The birds begin to sing.
The fog lifts.
It’s almost as if we can see again.
And once we begin to move forward we encounter others who are on a similar journey and we learn how to use what we have experienced throughout the previous three stages and what we have learned to serve those around us.
In his book Dr. Shaia goes into a great amount of detail around these 4 stages and how they are literally everywhere in life (they even make up the storylines of our favorite movies!) and then shows us how those 4 stages are also reflected in the 4 Gospels of the New Testament and the background and context that surrounds them, thus giving us 4 beautiful narratives to accompany us on our ongoing journey through the stages of change, suffering, joy, and service.
The breakdown looks like this:
Matthew - How do we face change?
Mark - How do we move through suffering?
John - How do we receive joy?
Luke / Acts - How do we mature into service?
In this week’s podcast episode I sat down with Dr. Shaia via Zoom and we talked about his book, a bit about the 4 stages, and then spent a considerable amount of time in the Gospel of Mark to talk about what was going on in the world at the time it was written, who Mark’s audience was, why it matters, and came away with some helpful tools to hold on to as we navigate through our own storms.
All of that to say, I was going to release it towards the end of November, but I feel like now is a better time because for a lot of us the upcoming holiday season can be stormy and rough and difficult and anything but exciting. For some of us it reminds us of loved ones we’ve lost while for others it brings back painful childhood memories while for many it brings up feelings of loneliness and isolation.
If that’s you or if you find yourself in some other kind of a storm today, I hope and pray that this episode can encourage you and inspire you and push you forward as we talk about the 4-stages of human life and spend a little extra time navigating through the stage of suffering.
Check it out HERE.
I’m going to be giving away ONE copy of Dr. Shaia’s book this week, so if you’d like to enter to win you have 3 ways to do it:
First, share the podcast episode on your Facebook page and be sure to tag “What If Project” in it. That enters you into the contest.
(2) Like the What If Project Facebook Page (<-- click the link to go there).
(3) Leave a review of the What If Project podcast on iTunes.
To enter the contest you have to share the podcast episode and then you’ll get an extra entry for each of the other 2 things that you do; SO, if you do all 3, I put your name in 3 times, which gives you a much greater chance of winning!
Much love to you, and hope you win! I'll let you know next weekend.