Posted By Denise Miller Holmes on Friday
Savvy Article #1102
In the book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas discusses nine ways we are created to worship and connect to God. Learning your particular ways of worship will enable you to both accept yourself the way God made you, and to accept others the way God made them.
I will post the sacred pathways, in a nutshell, in three parts. Here are the first three pathways to God:
1) Thought— Intellectuals love to serve God with their minds. I am like this. Thinking brings God close. Books and intellectual discussions cause me to rejuvenate my spirit. If you are structured like this, you can spend a long time contemplating just one Bible verse. Analytical Bible study and theology will cause the Spirit to flow. Doctrine isn’t threatening; instead, it’s liberating, and Thomas says, “They may feel closest to God when they first understand something new about Him.”If you are a Christian who feels weird because you don’t weep during sermons or get into all the talk about God’s “lavish love,” it isn’t because you don’t love God or believe He loves you—it’s because you connect through your head, and the language of emotions is not your primary language. It’s okay, you still love God, but the pathway to that love starts in your head first, then moves to your heart.
2) Nature— Naturalists, as Thomas calls them, love God in nature. Naturalists will pull off to the side of the road just to take a picture of a sunset. If you’re like this, birds singing will ring your chimes like a Tibetan monk banging a gong, and God will definitely feel close when you run through the stream laughing like a child. It’s just the way you are made.
My friend, Diane Shaw, is obviously a Naturalist. I berated the discomfort of nature at its wildest in my post I Hate Nature. Her response was gracious:
I agree with you about the “tawdry underbelly” of nature, it is bound to show up but occasionally nature shows itself to be wonderful. I blogged about such a time. If you want to read about a special evening that God gave me go to needmorewordscs.blogspot.com. . . .
Her entry Symphony of Praise is a beautiful description of communing with God through nature. The blog site is not meant to be nature themed, but Diane’s mind always seems to find its way back to experiencing God through His creation.
Naturalists. Nurtured by nature.
3) The Five Senses— Sensates worship God through their five senses. My friend Jan thinks that a large church building fund is a good thing. People should give a lot to building funds, she says, because churches should be big and gorgeous. They should have intricate stained-glass windows, beautiful draperies, and what she calls “lots of bling.” She feels this way because she connects to God through her five senses, and wants to be awed by what she sees, feels, smells, hears, and tastes. Congruently, she puts bling on herself too.
Sensates enjoy all the senses. For instance, music is important. Handel was most likely a Sensate, as he actually had chords he associated with heaven. Smell is important—old fashioned traditions such as incense help bond memories of God’s presence in the Sensate’s mind.
Touch helps the Sensate remember to pray. Thomas carried a nail around in his pocket during Resurrection Sunday season to remind him to pray for intercession and repentance. The nail was a symbol to him of Christ’s sufferings.
And Sensates would do well to incorporate taste into worship, too. Thomas suggests that sweet represent God’s goodness, and bitterness represent the unanswered prayer and a reminder for the Sensate to keep praying. He suggests thinking about the flavors every time you eat, and using taste to connect you to God.
Check in a few days for the next post: Nine Sacred Pathways to Worship God, Part II, where I’ll nutshell Activism, Tradition, and Asceticism.
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