Shadow Walking: Walk With Me

Shadow Walking: Even There

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast. ~Psalm 139:1-10

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During my teen years, a poster hung on my closet door with Psalm 139:9,10 printed on a beautiful picture of the ocean- “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”  It became imprinted on my memory and when God began to nudge me to step out in faith and go across the world on a missions trip, I knew that no matter where I went, He would be with me.

I followed God’s prompting and in the summer of 1992, I spent 10 weeks away from my family serving God by digging trenches and mixing concrete for a Christian youth camp in Australia. Every day, I read Psalm 139 and the truth of God’s presence washed over me. “You hem me in behind and before…” It became clear to me over the course of the summer that God never asks us to step out in faith without also promising to be with us every step of the way.

“You lay your hand upon me…” Have you ever been in a crushing crowd of people, afraid that you will lose your companions and then you feel a hand on your back or your shoulder and you feel a sense of relief wash over  you? You’re not alone. They are by your side. This image is what I consider when I think of God laying his hand on me. He is close, he is present and he wants me to know this. He is not a distant God. When the worries of life weigh down upon me, threatening to crush me under their load, his hand gently steadies me.

“Such knowledge is too lofty for me to attain…” When I was a 17 year old girl, my heart could barely take it all in. When I looked up at the sky at night, I was seeing different constellations than my family was seeing at home in Pennsylvania, but the same God was watching over all of us and walking by our sides. His unabashed love for me was overwhelming, but even more incomprehensible was that his love was lavished on the whole world. At that time, I was beginning to get a sense of how big the world really was (I had flown 21 hours on 4 different flights to get to that place on the globe!). God was bigger than all of this, yet he was intimately involved in the details of my life and the details of the team member working next to me and in the lives of my friends back home and in my parents and my sisters and my youth group and…!! Twenty five years later and this still blows me away!

Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast…” When I am walking with my kids in a parking lot, I automatically reach for the hands of my two youngest ones. I know that they need guidance. I am also keenly aware of their tendency to dart away from me. For their protection, I hold them close to my side. I don’t do this to confine them; I do this because I love them. As God’s child, there are times when I want to go my own way and his hand can feel confining. But he holds me fast and as I yield to his leading, I discover the love he is showing to me as he protects me from my heart that is prone to wander.

Over the years, God has answered every question I have with his unwavering presence.

Is God with you in the comfort of your home? Even there.

When you step out in faith is God with you? Even there.

When you feel abandoned by friends whom you trusted is He there? Even there.

Is God with you when you live hundreds of miles away from your family? Even there.

When the image on the ultrasound doesn’t match the growth chart on the wall is He there? Even there.

When you feel completely inadequate will He be there? Even there.

Is He there when you feel like your heart could burst with all of the joy He has brought your way? Even there.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. ~Psalm 139:23,24

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Shadow Walking: Walk With Me

Julie my child
Why do you run?
Why have you turned away from me?
You say it’s hard
To live perfectly
And all you can see
Is how you fail me constantly
You fail me constantly
You fail me constantly

My blood has cleansed you
Your sins are remembered no more
So come on, and walk with me

Julie my child
I’ve set you free
For I want you to be with me eternally
I love you so
I want you to know
That I’m the one who’s calling you home
Calling you home
Calling you home

My blood has cleansed you
Your sins are remembered no more
So come on, and walk with me
My blood has cleansed you
Your sins are remembered no more
So come on, and walk with me

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During my high school years, I began to make my faith my own. I have a distinct memory of a day in 10th grade when I felt consumed by my failure. I felt like all of my friendships were one sided, that I would never be good enough for my family and that I was constantly letting God down. I made it to my 6th period English class and then lost it at my desk, a mess of tears.

That night, I went to bed early and grabbed my Walkman (yes, I know I am dating myself!) and I listened to “Walk with Me” from Whitecross over and over again. I sobbed and sobbed as I considered my feelings of failure and God’s response of love. He had died for me, his blood had cleansed me, my sins were remembered no more and he was inviting me to walk with Him. It was that simple and that profound.

This became a routine of sorts for me. Whenever I felt rejected or misunderstood, I would hole myself up in my room and listen to words that soothed my soul. I might feel like I was failing, but God’s promise rang true. His invitation to me was not conditional. It was completely dependent on Him and His faithfulness.

It was around this pivotal time in my life that my Daddy had open heart surgery. I was confronted with losing my earthly father and the question that kept resounding in my heart was “Do I trust God to be enough?”. I continued to listen to “Walk with Me” and found the answer to this question was gradually becoming “Yes!”. I could trust Him, even if he took my Daddy home. I could trust Him with my insecurities and inadequacies. I could trust Him, because He was proving to be faithful.

Not only did the God of the universe love me, but He wanted to have a relationship with me, to walk with me! It was remarkable!

My struggles have changed and the songs that I listen to have changed (much to my husband’s delight!), but walking with God continues to be my heart’s desire. When I fail, He is constant. When I cry, He comforts. When I worry, He proves Himself trustworthy. And over it all, I can hear Him whisper, “Walk with me, Becky!”.

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Shadow Walking: Where to Hide

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
 He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. ~Psalm 91:1-4

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Life is hard. Sicknesses, death of a loved one, injustices, unexpected diagnoses, mental illness, miscarriages, addictions, tragedies, natural disasters, and even the seemingly trivial aspects of life can overwhelm us. The burdens we bear can be heavy and our hearts break under the load.

The tendency or temptation is to become numb to these things, so that they don’t affect us as deeply. Or we try to bear the burden on our own and end up feeling crippled and hollow inside.

But what if we were never meant to bear the burdens of life on our own? What if we were meant to be carried?

We often think of walking with God as a nice stroll with an intimate friend, but really walking with God is more like a father holding his baby girl. A father would never expect his infant to walk on her own. The task of carrying her is a delight because he loves his daughter.

When we choose to dwell in God’s shadow, we understand our need for Him. We get that we are incapable of walking on our own. We know that the worries of life are too much for us to bear and so we hide in His shadow, in the safety of His wings.

We allow God to carry us through the difficulties and the joys of life and we discover an unshakable hope, an unfathomable joy, and a peace that passes understanding.

What does hiding in God’s shadow look like? It starts with a knowledge of who God Almighty is. Our trust in God can only be as strong as our knowledge of Him. Is he big enough to handle whatever difficulty we face? Does He have a plan and is that plan good? Can we still trust Him when our world is crumbling around us? Will He fail us or let us down or is He unfailing and faithful? We need to pursue Christ, to know Him deeply, so that we are able to answer these questions. We need to study scripture and we need to look at God’s past faithfulness in our lives.

We don’t get to know God by running in our own direction. When the storms of life come (and they will!), we know to hide ourselves in Him and to allow God to be our refuge and our strength.

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Shadow Walking: Where to Walk

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. ~Psalm 1:1-3

The first passage of scripture I ever memorized was Psalm 1. I was in 3rd grade and wanted to please my teacher who I adored, so I faithfully memorized every word.

The amazing thing about the Word of God is that it is powerful to effect change in our lives regardless of our reasons for memorizing it. This has certainly been true of Psalm 1 as God has used it over and over again to remind me of where I am supposed to walk.

Will I walk in ways of my own choosing or will I walk the paths where God leads me? This is an important choice we all need to make every single day. We have a plethora of options laid before us and so we must choose where we will walk. In this passage, walking leads to standing and standing to sitting. It is a progression of choices that have the potential to derail our lives.

Motivation speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether this is true or not, we are influenced by the people we spend the most time with, so we need to be intentional about where we spend that time and who we spend it with. If our only interactions are with others who are not seeking God, we will find that we will begin to walk in the opposite direction from God and we will become more and more comfortable with sin.

When we choose to not walk down sinful paths, but instead choose to spend our time in God’s Word and learning from him, our lives will flourish, just like a tree planted by a stream of water. Our nourishment will come from truth and the overflow in our lives will be one of righteousness.

Where are you walking and who are you walking with? Are you intentional about the paths that you walk down? Where are they leading you?

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