Friday, 6 July 2007

Walk with the Lord

"How's your walk with the Lord?" I'm not sure where we get this vocabulary. A quick search of the ESV led me to conclude that the whole phrase is non-Biblical (NB, not unbiblical necesarily!) but that the Israelites spoke of walking before the Lord wholeheartedly, or uprightly. Now, that I can get. But while "walk with the Lord" expresses some truths (he is in us and we depend on him for our every breath and atom, we must walk in his ways, according to his revelation, we walk with Christ as our Lord), the phrase sounds like we should be strolling through the sunlit park with a cool breeze, arm in arm with our Saviour.

"When we walk with the Lord, in the light of his word, what a glory he sheds on our way!
When we do his good will, he delights in us still, and with all who will trust and obey!"

This expression and this song always get me rather depressed. Is it really true that when we walk in the light of God's word, the way seems glorious? That not a shadow will rise, not a tear in our eyes, but his smile quickly drives it away? Could it not be that we're afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, with death at work in us? Could it be that the glory isn't lighting up the path exactly, but hidden in our easily-broken clay-pot bodies as the life of Christ so that we're not quite crushed, or despairing, or forsaken, or destroyed? Could it be that we're fighting a battle against unbelief and despair, against distrust and disobedience, against inordinate desires and misplaced hopes, and that the glory is not so much in the present walk of complete obedience as in the fact that the life of Christ is at work in us so that we haven't surrendered yet to the world, the flesh & the devil? Could it be that he delights in us anyway, because of the perfect, glorious righteousness of Christ!

This glory, this walk with the Lord, is not measured by a sunlit feeling of cosiness in his presence. This is a battle. A battle to knock down idols and replace them with the desire for knowing and enjoying God. A battle to be controlled by the Spirit, not by the flesh. A battle for joy in Christ.

It's rather paradoxical, admittedly. But I find it encouraging to remember. It spurs me on. It's not odd that I'm not strolling along a sunlit seashore with nothing but an occasional swot at a fly or outcrop of rock to negotiate. If I'm on a beach it's because I'm fighting on the beaches, in the war against unbelief, and inordinate desires, and by God's grace I haven't surrendered to the enemy. Praise him!


David said...

This glory, this walk with the Lord, is not measured by a sunlit feeling of cosiness in his presence. This is a battle.

Well said!

mama said...

Ah, good stuff, and pure Piper! But there is another side, perhaps especially as you get older, and wearier...

Genesis 5:24
Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

Genesis 6:9
Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

Malachi 2:6
He (the house of Levi) walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity.

John 6:66
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

Revelation 3:4
Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

étrangère said...

Ah, cheers maman: my ESV search was evidently too brief and my memory deficient.

robert said...

H-m-m... Well, I enjoyed your comments, but am glad Mama reminded you that the Bible talks about folks walking with God a number of times. Walking provides a wonderful analogy to living the life of a child of God--with its step by step faith and obedience toward Him. We are also called upon to "walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16, 25)--empowered and guided by the Spirit of God.

That is what makes the hymn "Trust and Obey" useful as a summary of living the Christian life. As to your criticism of the song, author, John Sammis, is not saying that our lives never have "shadows" or "clouds," but that the smile of the Lord Jesus can dispel the gloom.

That's reflected in the experience of Paul and Silas in prison. Beaten, and bound, they sang hymns to the Lord (Acts 16:23-25). Our lives certainly have their trials, but the Lord can give joy in the midst of pain. (Paul's letter to the Philippian church talks about joy quite a bit, was written from a prison cell.)

Incidentally, today is the 164th anniversary of the birth of John Sammis. If you don't know the story behind the hymn, I invite you to check out my daily blog on hymns (Wordwise Hymns) for today. God bless. Keep walking!