Sunday, May 30, 2010

This morning I went for a walk…

alone.

For most of you, a solitary morning stroll is nothing to write a blog post about.  Trust me, for me to go for a walk alone is enough to write the governor about! These days there’s a road that lies before me that looks absolutely impossible to travel.  During my morning prayer, I asked the Lord for navigation instructions.   To travel this road seems to require a faith greater than the faith I feel I possess, these days.

God’s answer to my morning petition was simple: “Go for a walk.”  I never go for walks alone.  Yet, for the past two weeks I’ve felt a distinct nudge working to prepare me for this moment.  For me, going for a walk alone is the equivalent of staring down the “boogey” man.  I knew this would be an exercise in facing my fear.  I hoped it would also be an exercise to reclaim my faith.  I was desperate.  I had no choice but to obey.

Although I knew “go for a walk” wasn’t the last of what my Lord would say to me this morning, I still grabbed my ancient iPod mini for some tunes to accompany me on the journey.  “I’ll listen to praise and worship,” I thought, as if that would make my attempt to drown out the voice of the Lord more acceptable.  To my surprise, or maybe not so much, the thing wouldn’t even turn on.  “Wow, Lord!  You didn’t have to kill my iPod,” I thought, as I parked the device on the shoe cubicle by the front door.

I locked up the house, then stood in the middle of the driveway.  Which way should I begin?  Trying not to delay the inevitable, I quickly chose to head off in the distance to my right.  The sky was sad, but I knew it would withhold its tears until my morning journey was complete.  Slowly, I put one foot in front of the other.  Left-right-left…  The sound of my Reeboks on the black asphalt only slightly disturbed the stillness of the 8 am hour.

I found myself looking back to see how far away I had gotten from home, from my safe place.  After a while, I could no longer see it.  I couldn’t see anything familiar, not my sister’s American sedan in the driveway, nor my brother-in-law’s German hatchback on the street.  Familiar was now somewhere far behind me, but I had to keep moving forward.  As I did, my heavenly Father began to speak:

Dad: “Monica, don’t forget without faith it is impossible to please me.”  Hebrews 11:6

Daughter: “Yes, Dad I know.  You know I’ve always stood on that word.  I used to think you’d given me the gift of faith, but lately it feels like I’ve done this “faith” thing all wrong.  I”ve been watching others who seem to have a “safer” approach, and I don’t know…  *sigh* I think I may like their way better.”

Daughter: “And another thing… I just don’t like walking alone.  I feel so vulnerable and exposed.  There’s no shield.”

Dad: “I am your shield.” Genesis 15:1

Daughter: “But I don’t know if I’m going in the right direction!  What if I’m wrong again?   Failure is just too painful!”

Dad: “Trust me with all your heart.  Stop thinking so much.  Keep your eyes on me, and I will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5,6

There was so much I could say in response, but I knew He already “heard” me.  So, I kept walking.

There were birds up ahead.  Quite a few of them, I might add.  I’m afraid of birds.  However, as I approached, the birds scattered.

Dad: “Monica, did you notice how the birds fled as you approached?  The object of your fear scattered in all directions – north, south, east, and west.  You have no reason to fear.  Your enemies will flee, because I am with you.” Deuteronomy 28:25

Daughter: “I know! I know!  But I guess since I can’t “see” you sometimes I wonder if you’re really with me.  Lately, I feel so alone on this journey.

Dad: “Sometimes, as you take steps of faith, it will appear you are walking alone, and that’s ok.  That’s only in your natural world.  Remember, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

So, I kept walking.  My comfort zone was no longer in sight, yet my faith and confidence in this new path were growing with each step.  My pace gave me away, as it quickened just a touch.

Dad: “You see Monica, having faith just means you obey me no matter what, you believe me no matter what and you trust me no matter what.  You keep moving even in the midst of your fears.  Give me your fears, and I’ll give confidence back to you.”

I rounded a corner, and suddenly out of nowhere a dog began to bark from his balcony, above my head.  Setting off a chain reaction, his next door neighbor now began to bark from his balcony.  They startled me.  I wasn’t expecting them, but as soon as I reminded myself not to be afraid, that the Lord was with me, the fear left.  And the dogs?  Well, I guess they returned to whatever they were doing before I arrived.  I never looked back.

So here are 10 navigational tools I took away from my morning walk that I’ll carry with me as I continue traveling the, seemingly, impossible road that lies ahead:

  1. Fear and faith are adversaries.  Fear paralyzes.  Faith propels.  Moving in faith positions you to fulfill God’s plan for your life.
  2. God is your shield and protection; He will never leave you.
  3. When you don’t know where to go, just start walking.  Very often you won’t receive additional direction until AFTER you step out.
  4. Use your failures as a walking stick.  Approach each new journey with the same fiery faith with which you approached the last ones. To continue in faith in the aftermath of failure deals a mighty blow to the  enemy and fills your Father’s heart with pleasure.
  5. The farther you get from “familiar”, the more you must rely on your “faith”.  It’s faith that pleases God.
  6. Obey the street signs.  Street signs provide direction.  They tell you how to proceed, identify where you are, and inform you of where you’re going and what’s up ahead. Your “street signs” for your journey of faith come from the word of God.
  7. Enjoy the flat land, and store up your energy.  There’s bound to be a hill up ahead.  An incline requires more energy but returns more strength.
  8. Speed bumps are strategically placed to regulate your pace.  They keep you from speeding to your destination and enable you to arrive safely.
  9. Occasionally you will reach a dead end.  No worries.  Simply turn around, go back in the direction you came from, and then choose another path. (always consulting your “street signs”)
  10. Lastly, faith without works is dead.  Be willing to go for a walk alone.

It has always brought me great joy to offer God what I know brings Him pleasure, and that is my faith.  His word doesn’t say that without faith it is difficult to please Him.  It says that without faith it is impossible to please Him.  Quite a big difference, wouldn’t you agree?  Yet trials, missteps, mishaps, setbacks, and seemingly forgotten promises have been working to erode my faith, to tarnish my offering.

But, this morning I went for a walk, alone.  I knew my journey was about facing my fear.  I hoped it was also about reclaiming my faith.  And so it was, my friend.  And so it was.

P.S.  It takes only faith the size of a mustard seed to move any “mountain”.  I’ll bet you have that much already!