From The Garden Bench - Walks
Words by David Hollows
Do you exercise?
Do you go to a gym to work out or is your garage your gym?
For some keeping the body in a healthy condition is important whereas for others, their daily exercise is getting out of bed in a morning. Some people rise early to jog or swim before the demands of the day, for others, gardening is their exercise routine.
The biologists inform us that being outdoors is important to good physical and mental health. The early human beings spent most of their time outdoors therefore it is part of our DNA despite the fact that our lifestyles are very different from our ancestors. Spending quality time in the outdoors and fresh air has a biological impact on our bodies and our brains.
Walking is another form of exercise and many people count their daily steps as a form of monitoring weight loss or physical health. Claire Balding is famous TV sports presenter who also hosts a walking programme on Radio 4 entitled ‘Ramblings’. Claire walks in various parts of the country with a range of other ramblers and as they walk they share life stories. Sometimes Claire will walk with one person or a group where friendships have developed.
Walking can be a leisurely activity or a serious event. In the valley there are several walking groups and all of us have easy access to the countryside and the ancient walkways that have been around for thousands of years.
Some people choose to go to the coast to stroll along the many proms (the promenade derives from the French verb; ‘se promener’ which means ‘to walk’ a word brought back from the French Riviera by the Victorians)
Others prefer to hike many miles with all the correct gear – did you know, that most rescues performed on Ben Nevis are for folks who have started to walk up the slopes with inappropriate walking kit such as flip-flops?
Photo by Nicolas Cool via Unsplash
Walking is a key element of the Bible in a time when most walked or used donkeys for transport.
In the first of the stories we are told that God walked in the Garden of Eden before encountering Adam and Eve who hid themselves from God (Genesis chapter 3) There is the famous walk of the millions from the slavery of Egypt and through the Red Sea (Exodus 14) to be followed by the 40 years of walking in the desert on the way to the Promised Land (Exodus from chapter 15 onwards).
In the famous story of Daniel and the furnace, 3 people are thrown into the heat but the King sees 4 beings walking around the flames (Daniel chapter 3).
In the Gospels walking is very much part of the Jesus lifestyle as He walked hundreds of miles across Israel in His 3 year ministry with His disciples. There are also the occasions when Jesus walked in an unexpected way; on water (Matthew chapter 15 ) As part of the Resurrection story, there is the well-known journey to Emmaus when the unrecognised Jesus walked with 2 of the disciples quite a long journey before they realised who He was (Luke chapter 24).
Sometimes the Holy Spirit is referred to as a companion or guide to travel with us as we walk through our lives. In Isaiah chapter 40 the prophet gives us these words of promise; But those who wait for the Lord, will renew their strength; they will lift their wings and soar like eagles, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint nor become tired. (verse 31)
Please take a moment to notice the order of activities; soar, run, walk as this pattern reflects our daily lives and our spiritual lives as well.
There are moments in our lives when the occasion gives us a huge lift, we soar; a marriage, the birth of a child, a new relationship. Similarly, there are occasions when we are so close to God, the experience is awe-inspiring.
There are many occasions when we run simply to keep up with the demands of life and those around us. Sometimes a holiday or a new hobby gives us that boost we need to take us out of the routine of life. Worship, prayer and Bible study should be occasions when we ‘run’ to God to renew our relationship with Him.
For most of us, most of the time our daily lives are spent walking through the routine of daily or weekly activities and there is nothing wrong with this because our God walks with us in the routines and the normality of everyday-living sharing every moment – if we allow Him. It is often when we walk that we see and observe the most and this is reflected in our spiritual walk with God, walking side by side in partnership with Him.
God encourages us to walk with Him in the Bible. There are many examples that God’s people are reminded that obedience to God involves walking in His ways (2 Chronicles chapter 6 verses 16 and Isaiah chapter 30 verse 21) Obedience to God does not include running or soaring, rather these are rewards for a walk of obedience.
Obedience is one of the characteristics of the Christian lifestyle and the prophet Micah offers a few more;
He ( the Lord) has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to live justly, to love kindness and mercy, to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God.
- Micah chapter 6 verse 8
How is your walk with our God?
You may find the following hymns useful; When we walk with the Lord (Mission Praise 760) The Spirit lives to set us free (Mission Praise 664)
Photo by M Ali Niksejel via Unsplash
You may find the following prayers helpful;
Our brother Jesus, you set our feet upon the way and sometimes where you lead we do not understand. Bless us with courage where the way is fraught with dread or danger.
Bless us with graceful meetings and good companions where the way is lonely. Bless us with humility to learn from those around us and bless us with love, given and received.
Bless us with your presence that we may know that we are on the road where you are and you are going.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Way by which we travel. Show us yourself, the truth that we must walk in. And be in us the Life that lifts us up to God, our journey’s end.
God bless you