What does it mean to “walk with God”? And how do you know when you are doing it?
Oh, and does walking with God have any benefits for the here and now? These questions have been heavy on my heart and mind lately, and all because I read (again) a very familiar verse, Genesis 5:24 – “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
Walking is a very familiar analogy for the Christian life. We are told to “walk in the Spirit”, to “walk in the light”, to “walk uprightly”, and others, but what does it mean?
If I may, may I suggest there are two main thoughts behind this term: (1) The priority of our walk; and (2) The pace of our walk.
First, the priority of our walk: Walking with God should be at the very top of any priority list you ever put together. Above family, work, kids, or even grandkids!
Prioritizing our walk with God means I put Him first. I take the time to talk with Him every morning and “walk” with Him through my day. That, my friends, takes focus.
A few years ago, Max Paradiso reported in the New York Times that in the town of Cremona, Italy, the home of the Stradivarius violins, the city fathers were challenging the residents of the city to stop making noise of any kind.
It seems that the engineers over at the Stradivarius company were attempting to record the purity of the tonal quality of rare violin and were calling it the “Stradivarius Sound Bank”.
They wanted their recording of the tones to be so pure and accurate that even an expert could not tell the difference between the recorded tones and the ones made on the actual violins themselves.
The engineers thought their project was finally ready to get underway. But a soundcheck revealed a major flaw.
The sound of a car engine, or a woman walking in high heels, produced vibrations that ran underground and reverberated in the microphones, making the recording worthless.
The police cordoned off the streets. The auditorium’s ventilation was turned off. Every light bulb in the concert hall was unscrewed to eliminate a faint buzzing sound. The violinist played a C-major scale as the recording team watched their screens responding to the crisp sound of the instrument.
Then it happened, and they froze.
“Stop for a moment, please,” the sound engineer said. They rewound the recording and played it again. The technician heard the problem, loud and clear: “Who dropped a glass on the floor?”
Upon further investigation, the culprit had been one Florencia Rastelli, a waitress in a café on the other side of town from the factory where the experiment was being conducted. She inadvertently knocked over a glass and it shattered loudly on the floor.
The customers all stood still, petrified, Ms. Rastelli recalled. “I was like: Of all days, this one,” she said. “Even a police officer popped in and asked me to keep it down. I was so embarrassed.”
The sound engineers there were so focused that they were seeking absolute silence everywhere else in the community.
Oftentimes as we seek to understand God and His Word, our thinking is crowded out by the noise of the world. In order to meditate on Scripture and to fellowship with God we must silence the constant noise around us and focus on him. That is the priority of our walk with God.
But the second factor is our walk with God is the pace of our walk. We live in a “running” society.
We often find ourselves running so fast through our days that we seldom have time to consider the impact of what we are doing. God calls us to “walk” with Him.
By definition, that means slowing down the pace of our journey.
In his book, Faith That Endures, Ronald Boyd-MacMillan tells the story of a number of conversations he has had with Wang Mingdao, one of China’s most famous church pastors of the last century. The first time he met this famous — and persecuted — Chinese pastor, they had the following interchange:
“Young man, how do you walk with God?” I listed off a set of disciplines such as Bible study and prayer, to which he mischievously retorted, “Wrong answer. To walk with God, you must go at walking pace.”
Mingdao spent 20 years in a prison cell as a result of boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. That cell became for him a place of unchosen unhurried time for intimacy with God. There was nothing to do but to be in God’s presence, which he discovered was actually everything.
Boyd-MacMillan concludes: “God does things slowly. He works with the heart. We are too quick. We have so much to do—so much in fact we never really commune with God as he intended when he created Eden, the perfect fellowship garden. For Wang Mingdao, persecution, or the cell in which he found himself, was the place where he returned to ‘walking pace,’ slowing down, stilling himself enough to commune properly with God.”
So how is your walk with God? Are you focusing on Him, making your relationship with Him your top priority?
And are you taking your time to do it, slowing down the pace so you can enjoy the journey rather than just simply complete it?
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for this newspaper and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.