GROW Deeper in Christ: Walking with God

David and Trina Robinson hike the trail to Stoney Indian Pass towards Atsina Lake, a beautiful trail through the park with flowers and waterfalls.

As you may know, my wife and I love walking. Every year, for the past two decades, our annual vacation involves miles and miles of walking. The photo above is an image taken by our son Thomas Robinson, of us walking the Northern Circle, a 60-mile loop hike in Glacier National Park we walked back in 2011. At the time the photo was taken, we were 30 miles away from our car, and had another 30 miles to hike, including over the Continental Divide, before we returned to where we parked our car after an exhilarating week of backpacking.

This past month, in late July 2020, we hiked 50+ miles around South Sister in the Three Sisters Wilderness of the Central Cascades. This walk took us for seven days around God’s wonderland, over volcanic fields of orange pumice, through knee high meadows of Lupine, across steep moraine mountains, along lapis lazuli glacial lakes, through forests of Mountain Hemlock, beside calm alpine lakes of clear mountain water. My soul was filled with God’s glory, though my feet were covered with trail dust, and my body was very tired at the end of each day.

Jesus spent most of his ministry on foot, walking hundreds and hundreds of miles with his disciples. Whenever I read the Gospels, as we’ve been doing this Summer at Cannon Beach Community Church through the Gospel of Matthew, I am struck by the walking journey’s Jesus makes with his followers.

An example of this is found in Matthew 9:9. As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew, the writer of the Gospel of Matthew, began his life with Jesus by walking after Jesus who was “walking along.”

Following Jesus is sometimes viewed as our “walk with Christ,” with the symbol of walking expressing how we daily live as followers of Jesus.

One of the favorite questions of people from our denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, is “How goes your walk with God?” Ask yourself this question: How goes my walk with God?

The Covenant Church offers practical ways to GROW deeper in Christ. This blog post is the first of 14 ways to GROW deeper in Christ.

The Acronym G.R.O.W. stands for God’s Word, Relationships, Outward Actions, Worship. These 14 spiritual practices focus upon God’s Word, Relationships we have with other people, our Outward actions, and how we Worship.

The Covenant Church offers the following guidance for “Walking with God” as a spiritual practice:

“Walking with God is a spiritual practice which involves specifically focusing on what God has to teach you through your surroundings. Especially in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), you will notice that Jesus spent a lot of time teaching as he walked from village to village, from event to event.

“As Jesus went, people often joined him. They gathered to hear him speak. Jesus used those times to teach his friends about the kingdom of God, about his Father, about themselves. Jesus often taught significant life lessons using objects in the surroundings to illustrate the truth he was sharing.

“You can grow deeper in Christ today by intentionally taking a walk with God. Begin your walk in an attitude of prayer. 1) Ask Jesus to teach you. 2) Walk slowly and notice your surroundings. 3) When something catches your attention, stop and ask what God has for you there. 4) Linger long and let God’s quiet voice tell you the secrets of the kingdom. When you sense God speaking, you may want to stop and write in your journal. 5) Spend as much time there as you feel you need. When you are ready to move on, do so. Ask Jesus
again to lead you, to teach you, to speak to you.

“You can walk with God anywhere. Walk through an indoor space: home, church, work, shopping mall, grocery store. Pray for each space as you walk through it. Think about the people who occupy each space. What comes to your mind as you enter these spaces? While walking, think about how God might see this space. How do you see the heart of God for this space?

“When you are outside, you might stop at a huge oak tree that is beginning to lose its leaves. What might God be saying here? Use all of your senses as you explore what God might want to convey to you through this object. What might the tree symbolize in your life or faith journey? This kind of prayer takes time. Slow down, quiet your spirit, and allow your heart to begin to listen. Give yourself at least half an hour. Listening for God’s still small voice is a vital dimension of prayer.”

Because most of us drive cars, our way of thinking about getting from place to place usually does not involve walking but driving.

Consider this week leaving the car at home, and going for a walk to the local store, or to the church building for worship, or down the street and around the neighborhood. For some of you who live miles and miles from stores or the church building, this may not be possible. Consider parking 5-10 blocks away from the church building or store, and walking those extra steps to get a feel for the place around where you worship or where you shop for groceries.

When we use our feet, our whole bodies are enlivened by the extra oxygen required to fuel the act of walking. Walking is also one of the healthiest ways to stay in shape. Walking with God is one of the healthiest ways to stay spiritually in shape. So, in closing, I’ll ask again: How goes your walk with God!