The Way to Walk
In the fall of 1988, my wife Victoria and I stood atop Katahdin, the massive mountain which dominates Maine’s lake country. Those last miles to the top of that final mountain of the 2,150-mile Appalachian Trail were hiked in the pre-dawn darkness. When we reached Thoreau Spring, one mile from the northern end of the Appalachian Trail, the top of the mountain was enshrouded in a cloud. We were torn. We had hiked in the darkness to reach the mountaintop at sunrise. We didn’t want to end our hike in a fog. But yet, we did want to keep hiking and not wait out the sunrise below the peak. So we all decided to march on.You may continue reading the column here: The Way to Walk
Our pace quickened in that last mile, we climbed the treeless peak watching as wind blew the cloud apart, shattering the fog over the summit. On we hiked, reaching the rough wood sign marking the end of our quest just before the sun topped the horizon, lighting the peak with a shaft of red light. As the sun continued to rise, the surrounding Maine lake country basked in an amber glow that caused the many ponds below us to sparkle in the sunlight. It was glorious. Words fail to capture the feeling.
Yet, we never would have reached that peak without the miles of hiking in mud. We would not have gotten there without the eight days of straight hard rain in Virginia. We wouldn’t have made it without the trips and falls on the path or any of the other difficulties overcome. It took perseverance to make it to that fall sunrise at trail’s end.
You are on a journey no less demanding heading toward a destination far more glorious. It’s a walk. A long walk. Even a rewarding walk. But a walk.
Walking is a favorite expression in the Old Testament for a relationship with God. We walk in God’s ways. We walk by faith. We walk with God. This idea of walking is such a part of Old Testament thought that Jews call their moral and ethical code “halachah,” which means “the way to walk.”
Walking. It had deep roots in the culture of the Jews. They began as a nomadic people. The essential Jewish statement of history begins, “A wandering Aramean was my father…” Abraham left the home of his father and wandered out into the desert to walk with God.
We find the ongoing theme in scripture that God has little interest in religion. The content of a person’s heart, and the ongoing walk, mattered to God then and now.
God does not want you to come to one big religious moment of making things all better and then get on with the rest of your life as usual. God wants the rest of your life. God wants an ongoing relationship that is more about the journey than the destination. The prophet Micah put it like this, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Labels: religion column