On the one hand, spiritual gateways provide openings for spiritual forces—good and evil—to touch our lives. Some gateways may open the door for Satan and his demonic hordes to enter our “home” and act like unwelcome squatters. Other gateways create openings for Christ and the Holy Spirit to touch us and shape us deeply. We should be very careful about the former and very intentional about the latter. More often than not we unintentionally welcome the unholy and forgo the godly.
On the other hand, spiritual pathways are not merely “openings” but the habits and patterns that we develop. Pathways are more than a momentary vulnerability. They are the roads that we walk down over and over again. As such, they become deeply ingrained within us; ways of thinking, ways of responding, ways of viewing others and responding to them. They form deep grooves in our souls.
To use marriage as an example—couples frequently form pathways; unconscious (but consistent) routines and responses. Ever had those moments when you knew what your partner was going to say before they said it? Or found yourselves thinking about the same thing at the same moment? Or finishing each other’s sentences in a gentle, fluid kind of way?
Spiritual pathways function much the same way.
The spiritual disciplines have arisen over the centuries as more of a pathway than a gateway. They seldom function well in a one-off manner. Rather, they re-wire us over time. Just as a single date with someone cannot produce soul-intimacy, so an occasional spiritual practice falls short with God, too. Consistency forms pathways.
If we are careless with our gateways and deficient with our pathways, we will rarely experience the depths of faith and grace that Christ holds in store for us.
As we consider our spiritual pathways, how clearly can we define them? Have we built a way—guided by the Holy Spirit—to live “the Way”? Has it become effortless and profoundly meaningful?
We would do well to identify the gateways. We would do equally well—or better—to build some pathways.