Practices From the Inside Out: What is Our Path Toward God?

Practices From the Inside Out: What is Our Path Toward God? June 22, 2019

What is Our Path Toward God?

Many of us see ourselves on a spiritual journey, a path toward God.

It is easy for us to believe we start far from God and are following a path which takes us closer. We are told God loves us but it is a challenge for us to experience that love.

Some of us have learned we need to follow certain rules or hold certain ideas to become close to God. We might believe contemplative practices are part of our path toward God. Other people believe we build our path toward God by taking specific actions or behaving in certain ways.

We may see God in ways we were taught when we were young children. Some of us have put a great deal of time and effort into how we understand God. Others of us have not really give God much serious thought.

I know people who wish our path toward God were more clearly marked, wider, or better paved. They would prefer to be on a freeway or a superhighway toward God.

Some people wonder why we need any path toward God at all. They wish we were swept up and transported to God immediately without effort.

What is our path toward God like? How do we experience it and feel as we follow it?

Each of us discovers and explores our own paths. Some of us need to try several paths before we find any which help us. We run into obstacles and challenges along the way and either need to overcome them or find a new path.

Some of us have become frustrated by the paths we have already tried. We wish God would be more transparent and more accessible.

Discerning Our Path Toward God

Many of the people who talk with me as a spiritual director feel stuck on the path toward God.

They may have grown up within a spiritual tradition. Some of them have positions of responsibility in a religious community.

It is easy for them to feel they have learned the rules and followed them to get where they are. They believe they have developed an understanding of spiritual life which they now question.

Some of them need to overcome a particular obstacle or find a different path.

We spend some time and effort examining the obstacle they face. It is helpful for us to see and understand it as clearly as we can as we try to see why they are encountering it.

There may be aspects or parts of their path toward God they need to see in new ways. The challenges we experience tell us things we have ignored  about the paths we are traveling.

We try to bring obstacles into focus with the understanding God loves us and is drawing us.

The challenges we experience teach us lessons about ourselves.

There are times when we need to find a different path toward God.

Sometimes we need to take a break, to rest in the middle of our path. Ways we have lived and practices we have followed become dry and burdensome. We may be tired and need to rest to return to our path toward God.

People who work in churches have come to me when they can barely tolerate attending church. Other people have become so frustrated with the path they have chosen they cannot pray or think about God.

We have worked together to recognize different ways for them to discern their path toward God.

Following Our Path Toward God

I believe each of us follows our own path toward God whether it is intentional for us or not.

Some of us go for long periods of time before we appreciate we are on a path toward God. We may be able to look back and see the path we have been on more clearly than we can look ahead.

We all know people who are eager to tell us what our path toward God should be like. Some of us have particularly clear expectations of how we are supposed to approach God.

Each of us can choose what path we will follow. I believe it is significantly helpful to know as much about the path we are following as we can.

When I feel confused or afraid about the path I am on it is time for me to stop and rest. Taking time to sit and listen to sacred stillness helps put things in perspective for me.

I believe God is at work in the world and the people around me, and living within me. Stopping to listen helps the path become more clear for me.

We begin to realize God is not the destination at the end of our path. God is with us on each step of our path toward God.

Exploring Our Path Toward God

We experience our path toward God in new ways as we travel on it.

My own path toward God has become more full of joy and revelry over time. It was a serious place in the past but I have grown to appreciate its ironies and sense of humor.

Some days present their own obstacles but each day is a new adventure. The secret wisdom of our path toward God reveals itself a little more each day.

We each explore our own path and we share what we discover with each other. Our conversation is not about trying to enforce our own expectations or find the right answers.

Sharing what we discover on our path toward God helps each of us learn in new ways. We encourage each other.

Our eyes and ears are opened to what our path has to teach us. We are not racing or competing. Each of us is following our own path in our own ways.

God is with us, drawing us.

What is our own path toward God like?

How do we experience our path toward God today?

Where will we go on our path toward God this week?

[Image by Stiller Beobachter]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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