Badly needing exercise but not able to take our hills, I walked the perimeter of our backyard daily. It was initially a boring routine but turned into prayer walking. I remember three sacred days when the Lord taught me some lessons as He answered a prayer.
Encountering several “walk” verses in my quiet times, I’d been asking God, What does walking with You look like?—and then praying, Lord, teach me to walk with You.
Walking in Christ
God’s first instruction was, “You need to walk in Christ” (Col. 3:23). As I mulled this over, I considered how Jesus is the only way I can know and live with God. The gospel is an exclusive message. The world offers other paths, other ways to live, but the Word of God, only one. Jesus lived a sinless life, sacrificed His life for my sin, and rose from death to give me eternal life and make me holy—to teach me a spiritual way of walking that would please His Father.
Walking with God is primarily a matter of gratefully remembering the gospel. Remembering God’s mercy and love, I live out my identity in Christ, practice God’s presence, and stay in step with Him in the daily activities of life.
Staying in step is important! In her book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, Barb Reveling describes how God desires to work in us; but, she added, “He rarely does it unless we walk alongside Him.”
Norman Grubb also writes of the overlap of the gospel and our walk in Continuous Revival. God sees our past and future in Christ, Grubb said, and He “just deals with the present, and deals specifically. We walk moment by moment, step by step with Him, the past under the blood, the future in His keeping.”
I realized that while Satan likes to deal in generalities, I can trust God’s Spirit to show me specific sins. I can’t do anything to change my past wayward steps except to grieve over, confess, and repent of specific sins and make restitution where necessary. But to live in the past is to invite depression and despair.
I can’t do anything to change a future step either. Living in the future might pique my curiosity and creativity, but it could also cause anxiety and fear. Instead, I can plan my future walk with a surrendered heart, being open to God changing my plans. Scripture teaches that my past and future are out of my hands; instead, they’re in God’s sovereign, capable hands. That’s why Grubb could say, “All that matters is the next step.”
In the devotional Life in Action, Tim Grissom wrote, “Today will be filled with opportunities to experience God’s presence and learn from Him as He leads you on the path. Remind yourself throughout the day that God is at your side.” Walking in step requires trust, patience, diligence, obedience and more. It’s not a matter of simply intending to walk but rather taking action by abiding in and obeying the Lord.
Jesus graciously sent us the Spirit, and I need to walk in the Spirit or keep in step with Him. Argentinian evangelist Juan Carlos Ortiz said, “To walk in the Spirit is to be continually conscious of Christ in you.” I need to practice the presence of God, and that takes intentionality. We all need a greater, growing awareness of God. Likewise, David Butts wrote in Asleep in the Land of Nod, “One of the major goals of my life has been to narrow the gaps of unawareness.”
So that was the first lesson: Remember the saving grace of the gospel and keep in step with God by concentrating on the present moment with Him.
Walking in the Light
I learned the second lesson walking at night. After a wearying day, I walked my yard’s perimeter, flashlight in hand. I needed to avoid tree roots and tangling weeds and to see where my yard curved in another direction. I needed to walk in the light or I could stumble, fall, or lose my way.
The Lord reminded me how often I fail to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:5–7). To walk in the light is to follow Jesus, the Light of the World, so I won’t get lost in spiritual darkness. I am to walk as Jesus walked, fighting temptation with Scripture. He is the True Light and my source of fellowship with God.
As a believer, God says I’m now “light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8), and I’m given the command to walk as a child of light. I need to walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him.
I am to walk in Jesus in the same way I received Him: by faith. The gospel message includes this truth: Sin is left in the shadows as we become more like Jesus. Then we can let our light—a reflection of His light—shine for Him in our dark world. We experience powerful progress and maturity as we live by God’s precepts and grow in His grace.
That was the second lesson: Remember the transforming power of the gospel and walk in fellowship with Him as a child of light.
My third lesson was somewhat humorous. My Maltipoo, Roscoe, decided to join me on one of my backyard walks. At first he stayed by my side, unleashed and happily enjoying my company. But then a bird flew by, and he was off. I yelled, “Roscoe, heel!” and he returned. Then he was distracted by dogs barking next door. He romped to the fence barking in a huff as I repeatedly yelled, “Roscoe, heel!”
My dog’s not too good at remembering his obedience training. And I forget mine, too.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” The hymn writer had a heart like mine.
The gospel of grace was made for sin wanderers like me. The Lord keeps calling me back from sinful habits and rebellious thinking because He loves me and wants to shape me into a vessel of honor for His glory. He reminds me I am His and I need to obey.
The Bible speaks of walking “in the truth” (3 John 4) and walking “circumspectly” (Eph. 5:15)—watchful and discerning—in godly wisdom and intentionality. God knows how the sinful philosophies of our culture can deceive us and trip us up. Our Father knows how prone we are to get distracted and satisfy the desires of sinful flesh. He understands the wiles of the devil.
So He keeps calling us back to a place of sensitivity to the Spirit of God and obedience to the Word. He wants us to learn how to recognize the lies of Satan, the world, and the flesh.
God wants us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. That’s when heart change happens. As David Butts wrote, “There is a partnership that begins to be effective when you act upon the Word of God. You begin to walk in obedience and the Word begins to work in you.”
The third lesson was: Remember the gospel’s goal—God calls us to discipleship and makes us holy.
I want to walk with my Savior, living in the power of the marvelous good news that changed my life. I want to be fit to worship and serve Him to the praise of His glory.
And I smile now when I am tempted by an unhealthy habit. In my thoughts, I’m yelling, “Heel!” Jesus is my Lord, and as I walk with Him in the Spirit, I will learn fresh obedience every single day.