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What Does It Mean to Walk with God?

labrynith by vgm8383 via flickr

Walking is a oft-used metaphor of life’s journey.  Over the years I’ve come to realize that my most important goal is to walk with God.  But what does that really mean, to walk with God?  What does it actually entail to structure the focus, the rhythm, and the path of my life to a relationship with an infinite being?  I will doubtless spend the rest of my life learning the answer to this question (and then trying to live it out!).  But at 43 years of age, this is the framework of what I have so far:

First, to walk with God means to follow Him.  Twenty times the Bible records Jesus uttering these two words: Follow Me.  If my life is focused on God, then I will be looking toward Him, as Jesus looked to the Father, to sense where He is moving in the world, to know the path of love, the path of obedience, and sometimes the path of suffering He would want me to take.  If I am to walk with God I must endeavor to follow Him.

Second, to walk with God means to be shepherded by Him.  Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved pieces of sacred poetry, and for good reason.  We all have a desire to be led by still waters; we all must pass through the valley of the shadow of death.  To go through the good and bad of life, the blessing and the trial, with a loving Shepherd by my side is precious indeed.  But as the prophet once spoke, just like a sheep I am prone to wander off the path, and I must purpose to focus on God and let Him shepherd me.

Third, to walk with God means to abide in Him. The night before He died Jesus took great pains to explain to his disciples the mystery of abiding in Him, and how vital it would be to their lives.  Just as a branch is created to draw life and vitality from the vine, my spiritual life and vitality comes only from Christ.  I cannot walk with God without the practice of abiding in Him.

Lastly, to walk with God means to see Him as the goal and destination of my journey.  There is a reason why mystics throughout the ages have used a labrynith as a spiritual exercise.  To walk through a labrynith is to encounter many twists and turns and seeming changes in direction, and yet to know there will be an end to the journey within the center, and that every step taken will have actually been a step toward that blessed center.  So it is with life.  Though my steps be many, and often seemingly take me away from my goals, I can look toward God as my center and my destination.  I can rest secure that my journey will surely lead me to Him.


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