Walking. I like to walk. Walking is my kind of exercise ~ not running, not jogging, simply a nice brisk walk. I have been walking for a long time, long before it became the new health thing to do. And to be honest, I do feel a certain sense of smugness when I hear some doctor with more letters after his name than a can of Campbell’s soup spouting, with sincere surprise, the exciting health benefits of just walking. Well, duh! I have known that since I was two!
One famous doctor recommended you walk 20 minutes a day and another recommended 45 minutes three times a week. Now, I don’t mean no disrespect ~ but aren’t they saying about the same thing? I suppose that there are as many different recommendations as there are styles of walking.
Some walk swiftly, like me. Some walk slow and stop to smell the roses. Some swagger and some step smooth. Some walk solo and some side by side. Oh yes, there are many styles of walking. But just as important as how you walk is who you are walking with.
I was contemplating a verse written by the prophet Micah and in this verse God tells us that His preferred style of walking for us is with Him and humbly. What does it look like to walk humbly? My imagination went to a young man, his gate uneven, his head hung low, hands pushed down into his pockets. No, no, no! Cut! That is shame, not humility. So what does walking humbly with God look like?
First of all, we are moving, we are going somewhere, we have a destination, we are on a journey when we walk. Sometimes our journey takes us right back where we started and it feels like we have been walking in circles. In fact, many of God’s people have found themselves walking in a circle ~ some of them spent 40 years circling the same mountain. But when you walk with God, even if you feel like you are walking in circles, you can be sure you will arrive at the destination God has for you.
If it isn’t the walk of shame, then how is walking humbly characterized? Sometimes the best way to understand the meaning of a word is to look at the complete opposite, the antonym, of that word. When I looked up the antonym for humility the first word listed was pride. I wasn’t surprised.
A prideful walk with God is easy to imagine. I’m leading, I’m setting the pace, I’m determining when we leave, and I’m deciding where we will end up. Because, after all, I’ve been walking since before I was two. I’ve got this down. I know best.
I direct the conversation, because I know God won’t mind, He tells me I can come to Him with anything. And I do ~ all my problems, all my cares, all my questions, all my needs. God listens attentively, His love for me is obvious, but sometimes it seems He tries to get a word in edgewise. Sadly, I don’t have long to walk and less time to listen. This, my friend, is a prideful walk with God, one I have made more than a few times. This is a walk of shame.
So to walk humbly must mean we give God preference. We allow Him to lead, to set the pace, to tell us when to start and when to stop for rest. We engage in a conversation while we walk, allowing God to speak to us about the things that are important to Him ~ things like justice and mercy. We let Him determine the destination. So if you really want to be healthy, don’t just walk, walk humbly with your God.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Names. We’ve all got one. Most of us didn’t have any say-so in what that name would be, it was just given to us by our parents. Imagine having been given the name Diesel Dean Daigle or Bear Blu Jarecki. I guess if you are the child of a celebrity you have to make some allowances for your crazy…I mean, creative parents.
Sometimes our names get nicked and cutified (yes, that’s a word, check it out in the Diva Dictionary coming soon to a bookstore near you!) My son’s name got nicked to Josh, our daughter’s name got cutified to Leesh. It happens. Sometimes our names get nicked as children but then we become mature, professional, serious and we return our names to their more regal original state.
If someone says your whole name~ first, middle, last~ then you should probably plan to respond with your tail between your legs. And is there a sweeter sound than your name being whispered by the one you love? Not many. Names are special. They define us, and sometimes shape us, during our journey on this earth.
I have been reading through the Books of Chronicles in the Bible and so I have been inundated with names, most of which I can’t even begin to pronounce. It got me thinking about God and names. Are names important to God? He knows every hair on our heads, so He certainly must know each one of us by name. But what name?
There are many instances where God changed the names of His followers. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Simon Bar-Jonah became Peter. Jacob became Israel. So I wondered if God has a name for me. If God formed me in my mother’s womb, if He created my soul before my parent’s conceived me, then does God already have a name for me? Not my earthly name, but a heavenly one.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17
What a precious thought that our God has a new name for us that only we will know! What an intimate and special bond between parent and child. Like a newly born baby who knows the sound of its mother’s voice, we, His children, know the sound of our Father’s voice.
Jesus said,” To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” I won’t even begin to wonder what my new name will be ~ I only know that it will be wonderful because it is given to me by my heavenly Father. It is enough that He knows me, He loves me, He calls me by name. Do you hear His voice calling you by name? If so, what are you waiting for? Listen. Respond. Follow. A new name awaits you!
Distractions. When the kids were little they used to watch Sesame Street. Occasionally, okay, maybe often, I would get caught up watching it with them. There was one particular sketch that I have always remembered, maybe because I could relate to it so well.
A little flying saucer is whirling around muttering, “Mother Ship. Must find Mother Ship.” Clearly this was a lost little guy.
The little flying saucer meets a boy walking by and shares his plight, “Must find Mother Ship.”
The boy patiently begins to give the little flying saucer directions to the landing spot, a nearby baseball field, but not two words into the directions and the little flying saucer is distracted by something.
Again, the little boy starts over with the directions. And again, the flying saucer is quickly distracted by something else. Finally the little boy says, “LISTEN!” and he makes the little flying saucer look right at him. “Listen, you have to pay attention if you want to get to your Mother Ship.” In true Sesame Street fashion, we have a happy ending ~ little lost flying saucer is reunited with Mother Ship and we, err, I mean our children, learn a valuable lesson about the importance of not being distracted. Well some of us learn.
For some of us, being easily distracted is still a problem ~ and by some of us, I mean me. I start off with great intentions but then some other shiny, twinkling thing will catch my attention and I’m off. I know that thing I started was important, but oh look, how pretty that butterfly is or I wonder why God made spiders and maybe I will start reading this book next. Now what was I doing? I forgot, but I am pretty sure it was important. It seems we have a failure to focus ~ and by we, I mean me.
A friend of mine said that each year their church has a word for the year ~ something to think about, meditate on, and incorporate into your life. I like this idea. I have thought about adopting this for myself this year and I was thinking my word might be focus. Oh wait, did someone say something about dinner, because I am starved! But before I get started on that, I am just going to throw in a load of clothes. Hold on now, let me grab this book to put away on my way back to the bedroom. Gee, why haven’t I read this one yet? Why not? It looks great! Why am I standing in the hallway with this book? What was I doing? I completely forgot, but I am pretty sure it was important. Alas, I guess some of us, and by us I mean me, will never learn.
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8
Time. “So, honey, I was thinking about time again this morning.”
I was facing away from my honey, but I could hear his eyes rolling in his head. His thoughts projected on the ceiling above our bed, Oh, no, here we go again.
It isn’t the first time I have philosophized about the concept of time, much to my husband’s chagrin. It can’t be helped, it is just one (one of many) of life’s mysteries that stymies me.
“So, honey, I was just thinking about how arbitrary our measure of time really is. I mean, how did people measure time before we understood that the earth revolved around the sun? How could you determine what a “year” really was? How did they know in Biblical times? Why? How? What do you think?”
He muttered something about the stars and astronomy and something else about me being weird and left me to my musing. Of course I could reason (initially without the aid of Google) that days could easily be measured by sunrise, and months could be measured by the cycles of the moon, but years…well, that left us with seasons and that seemed to have a lot more room for variance depending on where you lived and the duration of any given season, subject to change during any given year. It really is just silly philosophizing because I learned that we now base our time using seconds as our measurement determined by some random thing that happens within an atom. Still seems rather arbitrary to me, but what do I know.
I also learned that I was not alone in my philosophical mental meanderings when it comes to time ~ scientists, theologians and philosophers have been engaged in this debate over definition for years. In my estimation, that just elevated me to an elite group of thinkers. My husband quickly brought me back to reality on that one since sometimes I have difficulty with basic math…and I still remain weird.
But I am still fascinated by time. It interests me that time is linear, that it is a human measurement, and really intrigues me that God is outside of time. Sometimes I wake up and say, “Honey, I think my head is going to explode.” And my honey will say, “Have you been thinking about time again?”
One thing I do know ~ our time here on this earth is finite. Our journey here has a beginning and an end. Like a road map with spaghetti lines all over it, we follow a line from one destination to another and we mark our destination by an arbitrary measure called seconds, that lead to minutes, then to hours, to days, weeks, months, years and decades. If we are blessed, our journey may last 8, 9 maybe even 10 decades. For some, the journey is short. None of us know ahead of time the length of our journey. But God says that for all it is like a vapor, a wind, a blade of grass ~ here today, gone tomorrow. Maybe our obsession with measuring time, keeping track of time, worrying about not enough time, and musing over the early measurement of time is really a waste of time. Maybe instead we should mark our journey by what kind of love we expressed to someone, the place where we sowed seeds of sweet joy, the well where we shared the living water of life. Now that’s something to think about.
Resolutions. “No,” my son-in-law said, “not resolutions, life goals.”
“What? We can’t say New Year’s Revolutions? I mean resolutions?” We all laughed at my slip of tongue, but the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that we should make new year revolutions and not resolutions.
Let’s face it, we have all started out the new year resolved to make changes for the better: to live healthier, to be more productive, to have better relationships. And yet many of us find ourselves making those same resolutions one year later. Why is that?
I appreciate that my son-in-law was trying to take the resolution out of the new year tradition of self-improvement by introducing me to the idea of life goals instead. It speaks to the difficulty so many of us have with succeeding in being resolute towards the changes we want to make in the new year.
And so, I think my slip of the tongue was actually very providential. Clearly resolve is not enough. Apparently our desire to satisfy ourselves, our flesh, is greater than our desire to change. Good intentions are no match for our stubborn nature. The Apostle Paul said it so well when he wrote to the Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” I hear you, Paul. I’m with you. I know I should eat healthier, but donuts just taste so good. I know I should exercise, but I’m so tired. I know I should speak kindly with words of encouragement, but there’s much too much to do to slow down for that. I know I shouldn’t worry, but how else can I feel in control? I resolve to do good, to do better, but on my own it is a constant battle.
So what’s a girl, or guy, to do? Throw in the towel? Just wash our hands of the billion dollar self-improvement industry and say, “No thanks, no need for improvement here”? I don’t think so! But it is time for a reality check and a revolution.
The reality check is that resolve, will power and good intentions on their own can only go so far ~ how many of us are writing the same resolutions from last year? The reality check is that there is a constant battle between our human nature, our flesh, and our spiritual nature. It is time we acknowledged the real battle and take a step further and declare an outright revolution. A New Year’s Revolution. With the power of the spirit in us, with the right motivation and intentions, with a real desire to honor God, we will have the chance to overthrow the fleshly nature.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5
Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:14
Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8
Are you ready for real change and transformation this year? I am! Let these verses be our manifesto. Let’s desire all the good things that God wants for our lives ~ a healthy lifestyle, loving relationships with others, and most importantly, a deep relationship with the one who created us. If this is your desire, then join me in a New Year’s Revolution led by the Holy Spirit!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24