Funny how you can know a guy for over 50 years, take dozens of multi-state bikes trips together for multiple decades, and not know some of his darkest secrets. Take Jerry for example. After all this time, only on our last trip to Oregon and Washington and down the California coast did I discover the depths of his depravity. To me, one of the best features of our trips is to enjoy the ride and the country and to ponder it in its natural silence. Kinda like the Simon and Garfunkel song, "Sounds of Silence."
Now, I knew Jer took an I Pod on our rides, which I really can't relate to. But he likes to listen to God on the rides, in a variety of forms. Different strokes for different folks--I get that. But for the first time he revealed he takes TWO I Pods--one for mostly Christian music with some John Denver thrown in, the other filled with sermons. One didn't work, and he lost half his library of sounds.
I too listen to sermons on the trips--the screech of a hawk as it soars just above my head. The delicate beauty of wildflowers alongside the byways. The massive majesty of mountains that pierce the clouds. The sight of oncoming rainclouds that refresh and replenish the earth, even as they drench us to the skin. They all shout about the incredible intelligence of the Creator, his love in providing a marvelous world for us, his love of beauty, shown in every aspect.
So, which is best--Jerry's method of listening to God or mine? Both. Neither. I hope you get that. We both do it right, listening to God, learning of him, meditating and pondering and changing our walks with him. We do it in the manners that work best for us.
What counts, for all of us, comes down to the question--do we feed our soul? How? Do we become spiritually malnourished? I've found, from experience, that when I don't regularly connect with God to a degree that humbles me, I become more vulnerable to temptation and sloth and selfishness. OK, the list could go on.
Gary Thomas wrote an insightful book, Sacred Pathways, that suggests nine discrete ways to connect with God: naturalists (my major one), sensates (some of this too, it's why I have a convertible and a motorcycle), traditionalists, ascetics (I have a touch of this also), activists, caregivers, enthusiasts, contemplatives, and intellectuals (OK, another one).
For each of us, a key to spiritual growth lies in identifying the mix of methods that work for us in deepening our desire for God. Then, we need to act on it. Regularly. Consistently. Humbly.
Kick Starting the Application
Of those nine sacred pathways from Thomas, which most appeal to you? (By the way, each chapter has a brief quiz to help you identify your best paths.) How regularly do you practice them? If not as consistent as you'd like, what has kept you from that? What practical steps can you take to improve?