How much importance do we put on a real close spiritual connection with Jesus? Everything we do should stem from this relationship. In John 15:5 Jesus says this, “I am the vine you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.”
Everyone of us has different personalities and combinations of gifts, and likewise we have many different spiritual pathways to connect us with God and deepen our relationship with him. I recommend the book by author Gary Thomas ‘Sacred Pathways’, which I believe is a very profound and helpful book to understand our own spirituality, which helps us connect with God to impact the world. I want to cover seven of these spiritual pathways and I am sure one will speak to you.
The Relational Pathway: For these people, solitude feels like solitary confinement. However when you inject a strong dose of relationship into their pursuit of God and almost immediately these individuals begin to thrive spirituality. When they pray with a group of people they can feel the presence of God physically. Their primary pathway to God is relational. My wife always feels the presence of God most when she is with others and relating to people in all different circumstances.
Intellectual Pathway: People who thrive on the intellectual pathway are those whose minds must be fully engaged before they can make significant spiritual progress. They read and always carry several intellectually stretching books with them wherever they go. Why? Because they know that their hearts will never fully engage until their minds are filled with truth. Exampes would be people such as Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonheoffer and John Calvin. When these great theologians intellectually grasped the truth look how they impacted Christianity.
The Serving Pathway: Some people can only catch their spiritual stride and feel consistently close to God when they are labouring and serving for the Kingdom of God. When it comes to thinkers and doers, these people are the doers. They feel closest to God not at worship services or prayer times, but when they are serving and helping people in need.
The Contemplative Pathway: These people can spend almost unlimited time in solitude. Give them a bible, a good piece of literature, a poem and a journal and they’ll disappear for days. These people thrive on the contemplative pathway. For them just being alone with God is enough.
The Activist Pathway: Unlike contemplatives they revel in a highly challenging environment that pushes them to the absolute edge of their potential. It’s when they’re right on that edge that they feel closest to God. They feel God’s presence when they are thinking up new ways to transform societies and stand up for justice issues.
The Creation Pathway: These people tend to grow best and relate to God most closely when they’re surrounded by nature. My fellow leader and friend is such a person. When she goes out for walks and looks at nature she feels the presence of God in a very powerful way. For such people, being in a natural environment dramatically increases their awareness of God.
The Worship Pathway: These people feel closest to God when they are in the presence of God-honouring worship through song and music. We could say that King David, the author of many of the Psalms, was someone whose primary pathway to God was worship. Some people feel closest to God and most fully alive when they are worshipping. My friend who serves with me at the youth club we help run, loves to sing and play the guitar to our young people. When he does this you can see that he is in the presence of God in such a close and dynamic way.
After studying this I have come to realise that it is important to understand that when it comes to our spiritual pathways we are all very different. I would advise that you identify your spirtual pathway and once established lean into this pathway going deeper with your relationship with God.
It is also important once in a while to try out the different pathways, even though certain ones may be a stretch for you. Why? Because they all offer opportunity for growth. Finally it is important to help others to identify their pathways. When people begin to understand that there is at least one pathway that will enable them to relate to Christ more closely, they will be thankful for a lifetime.
Spiritual Pathways will help unleash the presence and power of God in peoples lives