In the church tradition that I grew up in, the word “stir” or “stirring” was commonly used. You would hear phrases like “I feel a stirring in my spirit” or a prayer that might include something like “stir our hearts Lord”. From a spiritual perspective we all need stirring from time to time. Recently I have found my own spirit being stirred. The struggle has been that stirring does not not always mean the same nor does it necessarily create what we were hoping for. Stirring muddies things up instead of making things clearer. As a matter of fact, I have found that stirring rarely brings clarity as much as it brings awareness.

Being “stirred” has a different meaning for every person. Stirring may create things in your life that it does not in someone else’s. The outcome of you being stirred may be completely opposite from the result that someone else gets from being stirred. Here are four ways that you can experience stirring in your life.

It Can Cool Down or Rekindle

Stirring can cool something down or it can rekindle a fire. Hot liquids are often taken through a stirring process to cool them down while coals that are about to go out are stirred to rekindle a fire. Something that is too hot is not as useful and something that is supposed to be on fire but has gone out is not effective. Sometimes stirring in our lives is cooling us down to a more useful state while at other times it is rekindling a fire so that we can be used again.

To Combine Things

The first thing that comes to mind is a liquid that has separated, but there are so many other times when stirring is used to combine things. This method is frequently used when cooking. When a new ingredient is added, the mixture is stirred until it is completely integrated. Often new things need to be added into our life and we are stirred until that new ingredient is fully integrated. Without the stirring we would not have the unity.

When Something Moves

“Well, you are finally stirring” is heard quite often in a household with teenagers. It is a sign of life or a sign or movement. Occasionally, the stirring we need is just to get moving again; evidence of some sign of life. It is so easy to find ourselves on the sidelines of life while everything passes us by. Sometimes we just need to be moved.

To Provoke

I can relate to this one as I have been called a “pot stirrer” from time to time (I have probably been called a stirrer of something other than a pot as well). I find humor at times in provoking people. There are times when this can be harmful, but there are other times when people only act if they are provoked. Sometimes our stirring is a provocation to get us to do something – to respond. Otherwise, we just passively ignore things that should matter. Many of the greatest movements in history came because someone was provoked. Provocation may be the stirring you experience.

I don’t know if you are experiencing a stirring in your life right now or not. I am, and I can see several of these things playing out at one time. At least now you can refer back and understand that stirring comes in different ways for different results. What you are experiencing today may be pushing you toward the one thing you need the most in your life right now.