My favorite form of exercise is probably walking. I love to do it alone many times so I can take in all of God’s creation around me without distraction. I notice so many things I miss when my ears, eyes, and thoughts are wrapped up in my day-to-day living activities and concerns. I often go without music plugged into my ears so I don’t miss the sounds of the birds, the breeze, or the Lord’s whispers. Sometimes He wants to point out something to me and I would never want to miss it!
Other times I love walking with a family member or friend. It’s an opportunity to talk without interruptions from electronic devices and assorted other things.
Walks with several of my grandchildren would top the list of some of my favorite memories. It’s given each of us time to get to know one another in unique ways as we have shared. One of those times was a photo walk where our youngest granddaughter and I were looking for special evidences of creation to catch a glimpse of through our camera lenses.
My husband has also been a great walking partner often in our years together. I have especially loved times when he has told me the story of the latest book he has been reading. Because he is one who notices details, it has given me the sense of being in the midst of the book with him. One of his best stories was telling me about Undaunted Courage that chronicles the Lewis and Clark expeditions.
Sometimes the walk is solely for the purpose of exercise, but I love the walks that do not have that purposeful stride I am looking to have as I wend my way along a path or neighborhood sidewalk.
But there is another issue of walking I must not neglect and it can be one that I must be purposeful about. It relates to Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV):
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Paul is stating an imperative in these verses. That puts it in the category of being an essential thing, crucial, vitally important, and a command, but what we fail to sometimes consider is what it means to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling.” That requires more intentionality.
Walking in such a manner means that I am looking like Him (or seeking to do so) not only in my words, but also in my actions, attitudes, tone, and posture in all things. After all, Jesus makes clear He represented the Father in his time on earth and was actually showing us the Father.
Am I (are you) showing others Jesus and the Father?
In this tension filled polarized world, how will that look for each of us?
The other words in the passage outline that, don’t they? If I am walking in humility, I am neither boasting nor trying to convey that I am right, my position is the one that clearly is most Christian, or trying to convince you that you are wrong. My social media is filled with postings from brothers and sisters that do not reflect that and I am pulled back to seek the Lord about what I post myself. Does it edify, build up, show love, promote our oneness in Him or does it focus on a position that can be debated and comes from my opinion, preferences, and experiences? We all have those (Me too!), but far too often they separate us; and, the body of Christ grows weaker when we promote them.
Each of us is called to be patient and “bear one another in love” and it is good to have those with whom we share those unfiltered ideas and opinions, but when they do not lead to peace and unity between us, do they result in a walk that is worthy of His calling?
In Paul’s first book to the Thessalonians, in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) he exhorts the reader again about what walking in a worthy manner would look like:
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
In this case, Paul offers commendation for those who are doing it.
“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)