Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash
True confession: I don’t particularly enjoy listening to and singing along to worship music. For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me because it seemed to mean so much to others. Why not me? Meanwhile, I loved spending extended time digging deeper into Bible texts and felt connected with God during those times. I couldn’t understand why others didn’t feel the same way.
Whether you call it “spending time with the Lord” or a “quiet time” or whatever term you use, connection with God is something we all long for and need. However, how we learned to do it from others and what we have seen people model can sometimes leave us feeling frustrated. What works for them does not seem to work for us. Often, we strain and persevere regardless. Or we give up.
Do you recognise that pattern in yourself? I hear you! Different authors have tried to describe what they observed in themselves and others. Learning from them has been a great gift. One of the books that has greatly enriched and shaped my understanding has been “Sacred Pathways” by Gary Thomas.
Yes, we all need and long to connect with God through his word and in prayer. How we do that and what context helps us most can vary. There is so much to discover about how God created each of us! Perhaps you have noticed this already. Some people thrive on worship; others on studying the Bible. Some come alive when they serve; others when they create.
Why don’t you take a moment right now to reflect: when do you feel especially connected with God? Is it sitting quietly reading your Bible? Out in nature? When you’re singing and praising him? When you journal?
Our goal in considering these “spiritual pathways” (as they are often called) is to understand ourselves better, so we can make space in our lives for what feeds our souls. At the same time, we can be more aware of the gifts others bring and step out of our comfort zone from time to time, trying out pathways that are not our natural bent.
Here's a sample of some of the pathways people have described. This is by no means a definitive list and I would encourage you to use the book I mentioned to explore further.
Some people connect most easily with the wonder God inspires. Here are different pathways that relate to this:
Our whole being is part of relating to God and this group of spiritual pathways reflects that.
This next group of spiritual pathways reflect the fact that God is active, engaged in his world and with people.
Hopefully, this short introduction helps you see how these different pathways reflect the ways God relates to us and to His world. As the church and as communities, we need each other. Whatever your preferred pathway is – we need you to help the rest of us engage more fully with God. Have fun exploring how you most naturally relate to God and trying out ways you wouldn’t normally be drawn to.