Back to the books….
I think I may actually have a few thoughts ready to post. I’ve been reading a couple of books that have created quite a bit of pondering. So much so that it has been hard for me to pinpoint just exactly what I wanted to share out of them.
Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas and Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
I’m not finished reading Sacred Pathways, but really don’t have to in order to share my thoughts on the book. I did finally finish reading Searching for God Knows What and am very glad I didn’t give up before the last chapter.
One book is about discovering your Soul’s path to God while the other is about the search for redemption. I guess that is why they have found a connection point in my pondering. They both point to the journey we all find ourselves on at some point in our lives. They both point to freedom from a standard set of rules. Yes, there is One God, One Jesus, One Holy Spirit and One Bible. So the “rules” are set out for us and I’m pretty sure He had something specific in mind for us to know and follow or He wouldn’t have inspired His word and given us the Holy Spirit to help us figure it out. But just one way to do things? Just one way to come to know the Savior in a deeply personal way? Just one way to connect to God in a way that will bring us an abundant life in Him?
How could that even be? How could there be books and tests and methods to discover a person’s unique personality or skill set and yet everyone be expected to find Him in the exact same way? How could there be tests to determine if a couple’s individual personalities will result in a happy relationship if one size fit all in relationship? Why would a relationship with God be any different? Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying Jesus is not the only way to God. He is! I’m saying I’m convinced without a shadow of a doubt that there is more than one way to know Jesus in a meaningful and personal way.
I’m pretty sure an introvert and an extrovert would find completely different ways to connect with God on a personal level. I can’t imagine that men and women who are wired differently on so many levels would be wired exactly the same when it came to their relationship with God. I can’t imagine that people living in completely different cultures would seek God in the exact same manner. I can’t imagine that a person wired to love country music would connect with God the same way as someone wired to love rap music.
In Sacred Pathways Gary Thomas explains 9 pathways to the heart of God. 9 unique ways people find fulfillment in worshipping God. When you take these paths and factor in that one or more may apply to you at any given season of life it is easy to see that there are numerous combinations of these 9 for any given person and season of life. My favorite take away from the book was that a lull in your spiritual walk with God may simply mean that you need to discover the path God designed you for or explore elements of some other path that would enhance the ways that you currently connect with Him.
This made so much sense to me in looking back at my own journey and the “awakening” that God produced in my soul during a very dry spell with Him. He took me to a place of worship that was nothing like I had grown up in and it opened my eyes and heart to a whole new world of worship that ignited a love for Him much deeper than anything I had ever enjoyed. It would be so easy for me to want to push that experience onto others because of what it did for me, but the truth is, not everyone is wired that way. And that is okay as long as they find what does bring them to an abundant life with Him.
That brings me to the connecting point in the second book. While this book did not outline any differences in how we seek or worship God, it did point to our differences from another angle. In his book, Donald Miller compares life to a Life Boat where we are all clamoring for a spot.
“I feel like I am in a lifeboat trying to get other people to say I am important and valued, and even when they do, it feels as though their opinion isn’t strong enough to give me the feeling I need, the feeling that quit at the Fall.”
One of his points in the book is that we were designed to receive our value from God and after the Fall, we began to look to other people and things for our value. It may seem a bit of a stretch that I would connect these books here. Afterall, one is about how we worship Him and one is about how we receive value from Him or others.
I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about the fear of man versus the fear of God lately. And it occurs to me that it’s very easy to get caught up in the need to look and act and worship like everyone around you when you get caught up in that fear of man thing. It occurs to me that it’s really easy to judge how your spiritual walk should look compared to others when you are so caught up in what others are thinking of you. It’s really easy to miss out on a personal relationship with Him if you are constantly worrying if you are walking like everyone around you.
I want to walk in the freedom He has given me. I want to walk the life that He had planned for me even if it looks nothing like my neighbors. I want to give others the freedom they deserve to do the same even if it looks and feels completely foreign to me. I want to spend the rest of my life worshipping Him the way He designed me to and continuing to learn from others who worship Him differently. I think then I will have lived a rich and abundant life in Him. I want to be so connected to Him that I would never again fear what others may think of me. I want to see the value He has in others who are nothing like me because in His Kingdom there is no lifeboat. There is no need for a lifeboat in His Kingdom.