A lot of people are walking these days. It is a good way to escape the house and get a little exercise. It is quickly becoming a psuedo-social event as neighbourhoods discover who all lives there. I regularly greet a woman walking her dogs. Normally she would be in Arizona at this time of year but is now stuck here. Her dogs had never seen snow or felt cold. Surprisingly, they love it!
It has only been the last hundred years or so that walking hasn’t been a primary form of transportation. With the mass-production of automobiles, we became less dependent on walking. Schedules became tighter because we could get from “here” to “there” faster. More stuff could be packed into a day. The less we walked, the quicker the pace of life.
Apart from the obvious health risks of not walking (or exercise in general), the quickened pace also presents new dangers. The press of busyness upon us can displace the naturally rehabilitative effects of life lived at a saunter. The rush of the wind created by life at highway speed can desensitize us from the gentle breeze of renewal. This going-back-to-walking thing is good for us!
Words Matter: Walk.
The ancient cultures understood the importance of walking. The fastest life could go was the speed of horse - if you could afford to own one. Walking was the primary mode of transportation. It was a central part of daily activity.
Our relationship with God is often referred to as a walk. To the Israelites after the Exodus, God said:
Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you.
'I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. (Lev 26:11-12 NAU)
God reminded the second generation of Israelites (the ones who actually entered the promised land) that they should constantly reflect on His words and presence with them:
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your sons
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house
and when you walk by the way
and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deu 6:4-7 NAU)
The Psalms speak of walking through the shadow of death (23:4), walking with integrity (26:11), walking in truth (86:11), and the blessing of walking with God (119:1).
In the New Testament, walking with God refers to our reconciled relationship with Him (Rom. 6:4), that we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), that God has prepared paths for us to walk (Eph. 2:10). We are to walk in love (Eph 5:2), to walk in God’s light (1 John 1:6), and that someday all nations will walk in the light of the Kingdom of God (Rev. 21:24).
Walking can be an intimate experience. When walking with someone else, it doesn’t take long for a conversation to start. Somehow, walking together creates a bond of friendship, provides an environment for listening and encouraging, and helps us share life together. That seems to also describe the nature of life in a community of faith. No wonder Jesus taught so much to His disciples while walking with them.
We have to walk. I don’t mean we have to abandon our cars. But perhaps one of the things we will take away from this pandemic is the personal, social, and spiritual value of walking. The relationships it can build, the time to reflect, and the reminder that no matter where our steps may take us, we are always in our Father’s world. He walks with us. No matter the burden, distraction, or celebration - God is with us. Just as walking creates an environment for sharing with our friends, so also walking can create that environment for sharing with God.