When I think of walking, especially after enjoying all the delicious food of this season, exercise generally comes to mind. However, when I meditate a little longer on the word “walk,” other images also come to my mind.
I think of …
A kindergarten class, trying to walk in a semi-straight line, following their teacher to the cafeteria …
My father, eyes fixed on his physical therapist, attempting to re-learn to walk after his stroke …
A little curly-haired toddler at Green Valley Park walking after her mother …
Those top-speed walkathons people who compete to win ribbons and gold medals.
Our new puppy, Scout, whose definition of walking is running at top speed until he disappears out of sight, returning periodically only to make sure he’s headed the right direction.
Whatever the images that may come to mind, there are three key aspects to all of them:
1. A destination, a path, an end goal
2. A leader, someone to follow
3. Clear communication and understanding between leader and follower
The absence of any of these elements can spell trouble. For example, years ago a friend invited me to her home for a day walk with her kids. After greeting her youngest son who had bright red hair, twinkling eyes and an inquisitive grin, he asked me with excitement in his voice, “Are you going to come with us on our journey?” Smiling back I responded, “I sure am!” I knew that we had planned to go on a day walk not too far from their home (No. 1 solved) and I knew that we would be following Mom since she knew the trail (No. 2 solved). But where did this sweet little red-headed kid get this idea that we were going on a “journey”? You see, “journey” in my mind meant a two-day backpacking trip with my husband, or perhaps a long trip down the hill to Phoenix.
While I tousled his red hair and watched him pack several snacks in his backpack, I began to wonder, “Why is he bringing all these snacks?” Not that I don’t like snacks (I’m a snacky kind of gal), but just how much did we need on this little “journey”? I hadn’t brought a thing except myself and hiking shoes. My pulse raced a little as I wondered just what I had gotten myself into! Much to my relief, the missing element No. 3 — clear communication and understanding — finally came when my girlfriend interpreted and said, “My kids always call day walks ‘journeys.’”
With the element of clarification completed we went on our day walk equipped with tasty snacks — and had great fun. But communication had been key to draw me into the unity of understanding the parameters of this particular walk.
Perhaps this has happened to you. You say something but the way your words are received and understood is completely different than what you meant. Or you misunderstand someone else’s message. Questions arise, doubts set in, and there is no peace of mind until clarification and understanding come. Thank God for interpreters who can bring about mutual understanding! If it weren’t for them, who knows what trouble could happen.
This very lesson was made clear to me in 2005 when I went walking in Mombassa, a small village in Kenya, Africa, where I was participating in a short-term mission. On this particular day, the pastor and church leaders were preparing to go out into the communities to visit and minister to the needs of the people in the village. Walking is the transportation for such a small impoverished village as this, so as we gathered together and prepared for our walking excursion, my Westernized mind began to worry.
Noticing that the sky was slowly beginning to turn dark, questions started racing through my mind. Were we going to be walking uncovered outside in the rain? And for how long? And what if our shoes got muddy? What about our clothes? What about the items we were carrying? This very organized type A lady from Arizona never considered packing an umbrella, and I was getting a tad bit concerned, which prompted me to inquire of the pastor a possible plan B just in case it started to pour during our walk down the dirt roads and through the blocks of mud and dirt homes in the villages.
Trying not to offend, I gently inquired, “Pastor, will it rasha rasha today?” proud of myself for learning the Swahili word for rain and applying it properly in a sentence (repeating the word twice means intensity). The pastor paused, looked up at the sky and spoke quietly in Swahili to another church leader with an investigating tone to his voice.
As I waited patiently, proud of the fact that I had problem-solved and thus averted a potentially troublesome situation, the pastor’s response, coming through my interpreter, took me completely by surprise.
“The sun is kissing the moon.”
Mind boggling! What does this have to do with our walk? I wondered. The destination to the villages was set (No. 1). Our leader and interpreter were confident and capable (No. 2). But here we were at the communication point again. What did it mean that the sun is kissing the moon AND, more importantly, would this hinder us from our walk? As these questions rattled around in my head, the clarity came when my interpreter told me, “In your country, you call it eclipse.” Oh, I get it! There was an eclipse happening at that time in Mombassa where the sun and the moon meet together. No need to worry about the rain. Yet another example of the need for an interpreter to bring clarity and communication to a situation, drawing people to a place of understanding.
Another “interpreter” who comes to mind in regards to walking is John. The one that leaped in his mother’s womb, the one that ate bugs and sweet honey, the preacher, the cousin of Christ. John was standing with his disciples when Christ walked by and John declared, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The disciples heard and began to walk after Him. Jesus asked them, “What do you seek?” In other words, “Why are you following me?” They wanted to know where He was staying. They ended up staying with Jesus until the 10th hour and when finished, they declared, “We have found the Messiah!”
Each one of them made a decision:
1) They saw the path and destination.
2) They saw the leader right before their eyes.
3) After spending time with Him, they were quite clear in understanding who He was, declaring Him as the Messiah.
They saw the successful elements needed for a strong spiritual walk and they followed. For your 2009 News Year’s commitment, resolve to follow their example.
Like these disciples, you can see Him as both the path and the destination, the Leader to take you where you need to go, and the One who communicates to you, so that with great clarity you can boldly declare He is your Messiah.
Biblical Text: John 1:29-41
Suggested Reading of Bible: Gospel of John
“Returning to Holiness” by Greg Frizzell
“I Saw the Lord” by Anne Graham Lotz
“When God Prays” by Skip Heitzig
About the author: Simone Lake is a full-time minister serving in the areas of Bible teacher, speaker, missionary and writer. Read more of her work at simonelake.com or simonelake.blogspot.com.
Women’s Bible studies
Simone Lake will be participating in the Mountain Bible Church’s Women’s Bible winter studies, which begin Jan. 15.
Thursday (starting Jan. 15)
6:30 to 7:30 a.m. — Gazing at the King, Part 2 taught by Simone Lake, Building A
8:45 to 11 a.m. — Precept - 1 John, taught by Alana Wallace, Building C; Heaven by Randy Alcorn, taught by Karen Mumma, Building C; Ester - A New Beth Moore Study, small discussion groups, Building C (visit lifeway.com and click on Beth Moore for a preview); How to Study the Bible , Part 2, Conquering your Enemies (previous participation in Part 1 is not required to take part in this class), taught by Vikki Dubell, Building A; New Testament Discussion Group - Study of Luke and Acts, led by Phyllis Serfling and Jennifer Hagen, Building A
6:30 p.m. — Romans, a study of basic doctrine of our faith, taught by Susan Manor, location to be announced
Monday (starting Jan. 19,)
6 p.m. — Apples of Gold, a nurturing study of Titus 2 for young women, taught by a team of five (visit applesofgold.org for details).
Mountain Bible Church is located at 302 E Rancho Road in Payson. Register at the church or call Karen at (928) 472-7934 or Cindy at (928) 474-4894.