Early morning on the streets of Baileyville, you will find me walking in the dark. I love that time. Not only do I get my steps in, but it’s so quiet and calm. It’s a great way to start the day. I’m not the only one enjoying the pre-dawn quiet; at least twice, I cross paths with a couple out walking together. One morning as I turned to head home, I noticed them a block or so ahead of me. Their synchronized steps caught my attention: side-by-side, husband and wife, steps matched. My first thought was, “What a great example of marriage, walking together in the moments before the sun comes up, each step matched by the one they love.” Then I started thinking about the one who loves me. (I haven’t convinced my husband that walking in the dark is a good date opportunity… yet. He’s up at that time, but ready for a walk, not so much.)
My morning walks are with a different significant other. As I walk, I read my devotion on my phone and spend time in prayer. Each morning I get up early to go walking with my Lord. In my life-walk with Christ, though, we’re not always matching steps; sometimes we’re not even side-by-side. There have been times when I’ve tried to run ahead, making my own plans and leaving him in the dust. There was one time in particular that I simply sat down and refused to move. I knew I was supposed to follow him, and I could see him walking right in front of me, but I just didn’t want to go. Like a toddler throwing a fit, I can see myself plopping down in the middle of the street while my Father said, “Fine, I’ll just keep going; join me when you’re ready.” Thankfully, God is patient and persistent, I finally reached out for his hand, he pulled me up, and I started walking next to him again. Lately, I feel like God’s had to push me along a little. I know that I’m exactly where he wants me to be, but it’s hard. Being a parent is hard, SO hard. Being a wife is hard. Being a teacher is hard. Sometimes it feels like the to-do list never gets shorter. One task crossed off, leads to two more added. Life is hard. You’ve felt it, too, because your life is hard. Cancer is hard. Getting out of debt is hard. Watching the ones you love leave is hard. Losing a job is hard. Feeling helpless is hard. This fallen world is hard.
It is in those hard moments when God gives me a little nudge as if to say, “Keep moving, girl.” I’ve caught myself responding to the nudge with, “Wait a second – red light, God. I’m doing what you asked of me; I’m trying to follow your will. I know this is what you want of me. Things aren’t supposed to be hard when you do life God’s way. Your will, your way is supposed to feel good not hard.” We kind of think that submitting our lives to God’s will should result in a perfectly executed plan where things just go right. But that’s not reality. Reality is – we will face obstacles and struggle through hard stuff even when we are in God’s will. When you find yourself in a hard place, that doesn’t mean you’re walking on the wrong street, and God is nowhere to be found. In fact, Jesus told his disciples that things in this world will be hard, life will be hard. “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 – emphasis mine). James shares this same message in his letter, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2 – emphasis mine). Notice he uses the word “when” not “if”. God doesn’t promise you’ll be walking on easy street when you follow him. He does promise, though, that he will be walking down the street with you. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35 – emphasis mine). Life may be hard, but it cannot separate us from Christ’s perfect love. Whether you are running ahead, falling behind, plopped in the middle, or being pushed along, you are not separated from God. He is on the same street. No matter what you are going through, God’s going through it with you. Life is hard. From the moment Adam and Eve first sinned, God knew life would be hard. He knew that we would need him walking through the hard places with us. It’s what he expects of us: to walk with him down the smooth streets and the bumpy roads. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 8:6 – emphasis mine). God is still there. Can you hear his steps? He is walking and waiting for you to join his rhythm, to pull up right beside him and start matching his steps knowing that even when you’re not perfectly synchronized, you are perfectly loved.
Lord, thank you for walking down these streets of life with me. Please forgive me when I whine that life is hard. Instead, help me to look for you and seek you. When, not if, hard moments interfere with our walk, send your spirit to remind me that you are with me. Thank you for your endless love and for never leaving me to walk alone.