What a Walk

wandererAnd Enoch walked with God;
and he was not, for God took him.

Genesis 5:24 NKJV

He was the first to do what I longed to do…but probably never would.

In his book, Walking with Spring, Earl Shaffer details his account of being the first person to hike the full length of the Appalachian Trail—a footpath extending more than 2,000 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine. The fairly new trail was a mess, not well-attended like today. Nor did he have the modern equipment available presently.

I once dreamed of taking a walk like Earl. Taking six months off from work and living in the wilderness, enjoying God’s creation. Although I’ve hiked numerous sections of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Virginia, I’ve never hiked the entire trail. Now, age and health concerns would prevent me from doing so.

Enoch took a walk of a different variety. He walked with God, and when his time came to leave this earth God just took him. He didn’t have to pass through the scary experience of death. He merely disappeared into God’s hands and entered heaven.

To take a walk with God means I must go in the same direction as He does. God is characterized by holiness and righteousness. Walking with Him means I must pursue the same traits. While I can’t be purely holy and righteous in practice as He is, I can be in position by accepting what He’s allowed His Son to do on Calvary’s cross: pay for my sins. When I accept that act, Jesus’ righteousness—which was as pure as God the Father’s, is applied to my life.

Walking with God is often taxing as it was for Earl Schaffer as he maneuvered a rough and unkempt trail. But God promises to walk with me, giving me power to make it through the rough spots.

Taking a walk with God requires obedience. Jesus says if I love Him I will obey His commands. Doing so isn’t always easy, but He will give me strength to do that as well.

When I walk with God, I can also expect rewards. God gives me the desire to serve Him, the power to obey His commands, and then rewards me for His accomplishments through me. The assurance of His presence and love now and throughout eternity keeps me taking another step.

Walking is good exercise. Take a daily walk with God and reap the benefits.

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Hemmed In

fenceYou hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

Psalm 139:5 NIV

The fence was there for a purpose—not just for looks.

The first house I lived in was situated on two acres of land just outside of town. Gardening and farming had always been in my blood—I suppose because both of my grandfathers had, so I decided to set up a small farm. I bought 20 chickens, 2 goats, and 2 hogs.

Before buying any of my animals, I erected two fences. A six-foot high fence for the chickens, complete with one by fours around the bottom. For the hogs, I put up hog wire and fastened it to the ground with stakes. Though I’d had none of these animals before, I knew their tendency. My maternal grandfather raised hogs, and I watched as they continuously tried to root under the fence. Since goats go over, I topped the fence with barbed wire. I’d watched my maternal grandmother raise chickens, so I knew they love to fly over a fence and roost up high.

I didn’t hem my animals in because I wanted to make their lives miserable. Just the opposite. I knew if they got out, they might be killed by other animals, run over in the highway, or tempted to go into the neighbor’s yard and root up everything. The fence protected them.

The psalmist also knew God hemmed him in for a reason. He was hemmed in by God’s commands and principles as well as His daily interaction in his life. He enjoyed being hemmed in.

As His child, God hems me in also. Instead of looking at His commands and principles as cruel and cumbersome—things given to make my life miserable, I see them for my good. Like my hogs and goats, I have a tendency to root under God’s commands and jump over His principles. Things on the other side look more appealing.

But God knows what’s best. That’s why He gave guiding ideologies. And that’s why He gently brings me back into the fence with His discipline when I get out. He loves me and wants me to experience the best in life—which I won’t if I go over or under what He’s put there to hem me in.

Learn to live within the hemming boundaries of what God has erected. He provides the fences for your good, not your detriment.

Promise Keeper

promiseAnd Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again,
for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.
1 Samuel 20:17 NLT

He made a promise to his best friend, but now his friend lay dead on a mountaintop.

Davey and Johnny were best buds and had been since they were young. Davey’s family farmed while Johnny’s came from the upper class. In spite of their cultural differences, Davey and Johnny managed to maintain their friendship.

Johnny’s dad, however, was leery of Davey. Though Davey came from the lower class, he saw potential in him—potential that might carry him far in life. So he gave him a job at his company—but with ulterior motives. He thought Davey’s sharp mind might help his company move forward.

As Johnny’s dad aged, he made arrangements for Johnny to take over the company after his retirement or death. Johnny had no interest in the company and secretly wanted Davey to run the business. He even made Davey promise to care for his family if something happened to him. (He seemed to have eerie premonitions.)

Johnny’s premonition materialized. He and his father were tragically killed while on the way to negotiate with a firm that was their staunchest competitor. Davey kept his promise, though, ran the business, and even cared for Johnny’s disabled son. He could have forgotten his promise and pursued his own interest in life, but he chose to honor his friend by keeping his word.

Being as good as my word is a high goal to reach for—but a worthy one. A person’s word was once enough…with perhaps a handshake to follow. Not anymore. Even though we live in an age of paperwork that protects me and the one I’m making a promise to, my word should be just as good as if there were no paperwork. My promises should not be made lightly.

Breaking a promise should never enter my mind. Only under extenuating circumstances and unusual conditions should I renege on my word. Carrying out my word is important even if inconveniences me. Taking care of Johnny’s disabled son certainly did Davey.

Perhaps more than anything else, keeping my promises provides an example of my faithfulness to God. When I’m serious about keeping my promises to God—as He is about keeping His to me, I’ll find it easier to keep my word to others.

When you give your word, keep your word.