Part 1 of: Sacred Pathways of Walking With God

Editor’s Note: This post is written by my good friend, Sword4Sail

The Hardest Way to Love God

*Photo Credit: Allison Ohl*

Longing to know and be known. To love and be loved. So you start to spend time with God…

“Dear God, thank you for a wonderful day. Thank you so much for my husband who loves me and shows your love to me. *Oops, I forgot to praise God.* God you are so powerful and sovereign, your will is being carried out all over the earth. *Ah, we should check to see if we put last month’s water bill with the rent check or if it was separate… and that plant really needs to be watered. Oh! I forgot to get the meat out to thaw! I wonder if Peter will start cleaning the bathroom when he’s done spending time with God… oh yeah, I’m supposed to be praying right now.*”

Do your prayer times routinely look like this? Or how about some daily Scripture reading that looks like Zechariah 11:7-9 “So I pastured the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I pastured the flock. In one month I got rid of the three shepherds. The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”

At the end of your time you may be frustrated and unfulfilled. You have to go to work. You can’t wake up – or keep from falling asleep. Sit still, read your Bible, pray. We’ve all been told to do it, right? We’ll grow closer to God if we do so, right? Sometimes you just don’t.

In Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Pathways, he debunks the theory that the traditional “quiet time” is the best or only way to come to know God or be in relationship with Him. (That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?) Thomas warns of narrowing our approach to God and unearths stunning portraits of Biblical characters and Christians in history who have different, as he calls them, “spiritual temperaments.” He even shows how denominational schisms have happened because of different ways Christians are wired to love God.

So what is a sacred pathway? “Put very simply, it describes the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him (Thomas, 23).” Many people have multiple pathways, but most have a certain natural tendency. The nine pathways (to be detailed in subsequent posts) are as follows:

Naturalists: Loving God Outdoors

Sensates: Loving God with the Senses

Traditionalists: Loving God through Ritual and Symbol

Ascetics: Loving God in Solitude and Simplicity

Activists: Loving God through Confrontation

Caregivers: Loving God by Loving Others

Enthusiasts: Loving God with Mystery and Celebration

Contemplatives: Loving God through Adoration

Intellectuals: Loving God with the Mind

The goal is to get to know these nine temperaments, then begin feeding your soul spiritually to know and love God with vitality, which should result in reaching out and loving others. To illustrate this concept, Thomas talks about finding your Gethsemane.

“When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.” John 18:1-2. Note: Jesus met there often. “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives (Luke 21:37).” The olive grove, or Gethsemane, was a place of intimacy Jesus went to spend time with the Father and get his orders from God. When you let God speak into your heart, He moves you to work.

But we mustn’t be fooled: all Christians are to love God with all our “heart (adoration), soul (will), mind (belief), and strength (body) (37).” Don’t impoverish yourself by ignoring the other temperaments.

So check back every Friday to discover the next Sacred Pathway. Join us on this journey of learning how to love God day by day, through the seasons of life, in a fresh, passionate way. Sounds a lot like learning how to love your spouse day in and day out. Who knows what could happen? Sounds like an adventure to me!

Sword4Sail is a young, newlywed tomboy who’s discovering her feminine side with her God’s-grace-filled husband.

Together they are trying to live out what it means to be give-it-everything-hold-nothing-back followers of Christ. They are currently exploring the realms of building relationships with others when they both work second shift and handling finances wisely…

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5 Comments

  1. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get around to this. Great start! Can’t wait to read through these and share them with Stephen.

    • Actually, he’s already read them, because he’s a better friend than I. ;-)

  2. just a thought – I often journal my prayers since I’m a kinesthetic person. It helps me to focus and concentrate better on the Lord.

  3. Allison, so beautifully written. Thank you for bearing fruit and learning to live in a Christlike manner. I am so blessed by our friendship. I am looking forward to reading your posts as you explore and share your thoughts and Gary’s thoughts on the sacred pathways. I definitely think I am a mix between an ascetic and an enthusiast (kind of on opposite sides of the spectrum, but we’ll see). I do enjoy connecting with God through Nature. I’m excited to see where this goes. May God continue to bless your walk with Him and your marriage to Peter!

    P.S. My prayer life is often like the one you described above where I get distracted, especially by things my husband needs to do… ;o)

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