Shadow Walking: Even There

Walk in All His Ways

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? ~ Deuteronomy 10:12,13

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In my childhood home, scripture was central. I grew up hearing it read, seeing it lived out, knowing that the Word of God was meant to impact all aspects of life and developing a passion for it myself. I studied it and memorized it and participated in Bible quizzing for years. I even went to Bible school and fell in love with a Bible theology major.

I don’t know what it’s like to NOT have scripture impact my life. And still, I struggle with sinful thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. I understand the hymn writers sentiment when he wrote, “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” Even with a deep love of scripture, I will forget to read it. I get caught up in the daily responsibilities of life and neglect my first love.

This is why passages like the one written in Deuteronomy are so important. They are a reminder to keep going, to keep learning, to keep walking. We don’t expect to go on one walk with someone and then know them completely. We understand that to know someone requires a continual knowing of them. We are (or should be!) constantly changing and growing so that who we were yesterday is not the same as who we will be tomorrow. Our relationship with God must be ongoing. There is no end to knowing him.

To walk in His ways demands that we know what his ways are. Sometimes my children will ask me why they need to read the Bible when they already know the stories. I inwardly scream, “You have no idea how much you still have to learn!!” And then I consider that my Father in heaven is thinking the same of me (Although I don’t believe he ever screams at me. He is endlessly patient with me!).

Deuteronomy 10:13 ends with the words “for your good”. Whenever God requires something of his people, whether it was Israel in the Old Testament or the church today, we can know that it is for our good. We know this by our walks with God. He proves his love for us, his faithfulness, his mercy and his grace over and over again.

Oh, how I want to know God more and more, to live in awe of Him, to walk in His ways!

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Shadow Walking: Walk This Way

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

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There have been times in my life when I have struggled to know what decision to make. My heart will desire to go in one direction, but my head will be leading in the opposite and I am stuck in the middle trying to decide- do I go left or do I go right? In retrospect, I can clearly see how God has faithfully directed me to pursue paths He intended for me to walk down. When decisions are difficult, my reliance on God runs deep. I beg for His presence, for His direction and for His guidance.

As I walk forward in the way I sense He is leading me, I feel a confirmation in my spirit- This IS the way! Walk in it! 

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Isaiah 30:18 and 19b

In Isaiah 30, we find the prerequisites to determining the way we should be walking. It involves waiting on the Lord and crying for help. Patience and humility. A willingness to wait for God’s timing and a willingness to admit that we are not in control, but God is.

We want to skip this step and get right to determining God’s will. We want God to agree with the way we want to go instead of doing the hard work of walking on His path and not our own. “The Lord longs to be gracious to you” is one of the most beautiful promises in scripture, but it is one that so many of us fail to realize, because we aren’t willing to admit our sinfulness and our need for Jesus.

God longs to be gracious to us. He longs to lead and guide us. He longs for us to walk in the way we should walk. Are we willing to listen for His Still Small Voice?

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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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