Walking in the woods is one of my favorite things! I love to pretend it’s just me and Jesus walking along. As I walk by this oak tree or that group of wildflowers, I tell him, “Well done!” or “Gorgeous!” Everywhere I walk is a secret garden of delight, if only I will stop to see the beauty that grows from God’s creative heart.
As a child, I wasn’t always a fan of the many walks my family took at local parks and historical sites. They seemed long and hot, and I was usually eager to be finished so I could get the ice cream or whatever treat accompanied the family outing. There’s one park in particular that I remember going to regularly that had steep and rough terrain.
I still remember my Dad’s voice when we would walk, telling me to be careful and watch the cracks in the sidewalk or the roots on the path so I wouldn’t fall. I think I was both fearless and accident prone, which isn’t such a great combination. As I grew, I learned to look at the ground in front of my feet so I didn’t trip on a root or slip and fall.
By the time I was a freshman in college, I was a professional at watching where I was going. So much so, I remember an older, wiser friend pointing out that I never looked up when I was walking across campus. I always kept my head down and studied the path. I didn’t look up and notice the world around me beyond getting my bearings. Forget about stopping to smell the roses…I didn’t even see the roses.
Thankfully, I outgrew my overly cautious way of walking so that I could begin to see the world around me.
This past week, I’ve been challenged to think about walking through life from a spiritual perspective. When I look at scripture, I see it’s best to be careful as we walk. Just like Dad always said. 😉
This week, at my microchurch gathering, aka Bible study/small group, we read Ephesians 5:15-21 together. We had a fruitful and at times hilarious discussion of what it would be like if we addressed one another only in psalms and songs (v. 19) and always submitted to one another’s will (v. 21)
After going to bed that night I woke up many times with my spirit repeating verse 15. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.”
As I prayed and thought about it the next day, I read verse 15 and 16 together. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
Boiled down, this is what I got: Look carefully. Walk wisely. Use your time well. The days are evil.
That doesn’t sound anything like our culture’s advice to “follow your heart,” “focus on your own needs,” or “do what makes you happy.” These types of thought processes are incorporated in our world, our TV shows, our children’s books, and occasionally, in our churches.
So how do we not fall into the trap of walking like the world walks?
A big part of walking wisely includes paying attention to who you are walking with. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
A while ago, when I took time away from the church for a few years, I found myself falling deeper into the dry well of living for and pleasing myself. Strangely, the more I pursued personal happiness and fulfillment of my goals, the less content I became. The line from one of my favorite songs described it best, “We want more than this world’s got to offer…we were meant to live for so much more.” (Meant to Live, Switchfoot) What the world offered wasn’t cutting it. I wondered, where’s the More?
In the years since, I’ve discovered the More to Life is in allowing my character to be molded and shaped through submission to God and his ways. Fulfillment is living a life fully surrendered to God’s perfect plan.
The friends and community you walk with matter! Wise friends point us back to Christ, back to a way of life that is sacrificial, back to a way of living that is counter-cultural. Wise friends tell us to walk out Ephesians 5:15-16… to “be careful how you walk” because “the times are evil.” It is so easy to slide into the slipstream of culture’s “I’m looking out for me first” attitude. But as a follower of Christ, our time and our path are not really our own. Our time and our path belong to God.
Walking with Jesus and the Spirit
Lastly, and most importantly, are we walking with Jesus? Are we walking hand-in-hand with the Spirit of God?
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”John 8:12
Jesus says that there is a way to not walk in darkness. It is by following him. For those of us who love him, we desire to become more like him. The path Jesus took was narrow, difficult, and involved sacrifice. That’s the same path we are on. That path is well lit by the Spirit, and it’s the path that leads to eternal life in God’s kingdom.
Next week, I’d like to look at some practical things we can do to consider the path our feet are on. There might be small changes that we can make to live and walk more wisely as followers of Christ.
For today, though, I want to close in prayer. Please join me!
Father God, thank you. You have given us your Word through scripture and the Word in your son Jesus Christ to point us to the way we should walk. We are not lost, floundering, or alone because you have gifted us your Holy Spirit to live inside us and guide us into all truth.
Father, please open my eyes to the path I am walking. Teach me where my feet should go, what my mind should focus on, and whom my heart should adore. Help me to encourage my community to submit to and love one another out of reverence for Christ, even as they encourage me to do the same. I love you and I love the directions you’ve given to me through your word. Supernaturally, expand my capacity to love you more and experience more of your love for me. Amen.
See you next week, friends!