Let's Go For a Walk
I love walking, it is most definitely my favorite form of exercise. I have tried the gym, many times. After several gym membership failures I finally came to the realization that gym life is not for me. Running also isn't great either - it hurts my knees and ankles and my breathing turns slightly erratic. I may even look like I'm about to hyperventilate.
But walking - that's the sweet spot. I can walk for miles. Want to increase my heart rate? - pick up my pace. Want to take a leisurely stroll and listen to a podcast? - slow down and pop in the AirPods. And it's not as hard on the ankles and knees so I don't even hurt after a long speedy walk. To me walking is my happy place and is absolute Joy.
Walking with another person is a great way to have wonderful conversations with friends, or get to know a neighbor. It brings energy to the conversation and nourishment to the soul and body. We are made for walking for extended lengths of time, as often as we need. God built us that way.
When walking alongside another individual, each person measures their steps to keep in time with the other. There is an art to it. No matter the difference in height or fitness, if two people want to walk side by side there is some adjusting to be done. It’s no fun to walk with someone if you are always looking at their back. If the point is to get to know one another while getting some exercise at the same time, walking side by side is the correct formation.
So too, is our walk with the Holy Spirit. There is direction for sure, the spirit directing our steps and acting as guide through some crazy neighborhoods or haphazard trails. At the same time, walking with the Spirit will influence our steps. We need to keep up, or slow down, according to the pace of our God. Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Keeping in step is important to a walk with the Lord because we do not keep in step with our Savior without staying in step with his gift to us – The Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25 states things very clearly, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
So many things stand out in the passage above. The passage is rich in both information and encouragement. However, one sentence often lifts off the page to me personally as I’m reading. “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Paul clarifies his meaning when he says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident….” When one walks with the Spirit there is no need for law, because the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” With fruits such as these, there is no need for laws to check a person’s behavior because you act from a place of love and peace and kindness. Sounds like heaven.
But alas, we know we ought to walk with The Spirit, keep in step and follow the direction of the gift left by Jesus when he ascended to heaven, but we often do not. Although the “works of the flesh are evident” we still tend to move in step with our flesh instead of the Spirit. Our default position is selfishness and anger, dissension, and envy.
We do not like someone to tell us what to do. It turns out our desire for independence can lead us wrong. We are born for dependence on God, but this dependence is in the form of a loving relationship requiring something of us, and we don’t like it. We still push against dependence on our Creator and fight the requirement of walking in step with the Spirit. But we cannot achieve the fruits of the Spirit on our own, we are incapable of it. We cannot walk twenty miles when our body is not even fit enough to walk one.
Walking is exercise, it’s movement. So often we would rather stay still and sit in comfort and ease, without self-reflection or the hard work of finding out what we love more than God. And we all have something we love more than God, until we decide to do the hard work of walking away from the Idols of our heart to walk in step with the Spirit instead.
The Holy Spirit is a gift. A walking partner who will walk alongside us as we tackle the troubles of our heart and the selfishness of our fleshly desires. When we exercise our soul by walking with the Spirit, we will see an amazing transformation in the most important muscle of our body. Our heart.