No Walk in the Park

Kerry Tittle

Kerry Tittle

Founder, Refined Family

Kerry Tittle is a mother of 9 children and an 18-year homeschool veteran. She is the founder of Refined Family. Her desire is to honor Christ while comforting others with the comfort she has received from the Lord. 

 

I’ve noticed that the word walk comes up often in the language of “Christianese”. We refer to our “walk” with the Lord or maybe simply our “Christian walk”. When people hear this, it somehow gives the impression of a delightful stroll with our Savior – serene and uneventful.

If we were to be honest, walking with God is rarely, if ever, a walk in the park – especially when it involves journeying through a wilderness.

Let’s take a “stroll” back to second century Rome where walking was the way of life.

Between 27 BC and 180 AD was a two-hundred-year period of tranquility and economic success in the Roman Empire known as the Pax Romana.

If there was a time to travel in the Mediterranean World this was it. Through a significant cultural achievement, they had built amazing roads to walk on: twelve feet wide, stone-paved with cultural peace as an added bonus.

But not so much for Paul.

Undoubtedly, Paul would have walked on these revolutionary new roads. We would be tempted to think that these roads would have been a great blessing for Paul to travel his missionary journeys on. It may have been a physical convenience for him, but his spiritual walk was a whole new world.

 

2 Corinthians 11:24-29

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
Not exactly your Boy Scout backpacking trip.

The wilderness road is a brutal road to walk. It doesn’t matter what it is paved with, it’s dark, scary and lonely. At some point during our Christian walk we are going to travel a road that stretches our faith. Why does God beckon us to follow on such a cruel path?

Most of us would be tempted to bow out of such a stroll – but Paul didn’t. I mean, he could never seem to catch a break in all the the adversities coming at him, yet he persevered. How? Why?

Recently, I shared with a friend that I had no idea where I was on this road. God is my light, I know this.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

But……

He only gives me enough light to take the next step. I was so frustrated because I have no aerial view of my wilderness journey. Have I just started? Am I almost done? Not knowing drives me crazy! I want a spiritual GPS device, complete with an estimated time of arrival. Instead He just calls me to follow and trust Him.

I have come to see that at different times, my walk may look one of five different ways.

Me (attempting) to lead God. Sounds kinda futile, but we all do it. It resembles the scenario of a toddler dragging a parent to a toy aisle only be be disappointed to find that their parent didn’t come to the store for toys.

The “Drug” problem. This is the past tense of drag. It feels like God is dragging me fighting and kicking all the way – another futile attempt at me trying control the situation.

Prodigal wandering. This is me straying when I get spiritually sidetracked or things don’t go my way and I need a place to go and sulk.

Wilderness wandering. This looks like me begging God for guidance and seemingly not getting a response. This is the area where I am tempted to give in to fear or despair.

Reaching for God’s hand. – This is the only one that gives way to peace and comfort (though it’s not pain free). When I allow God to lead me blindfolded through the battlefield, we tend to realize that the God who made the universe and is all-Sovereign and is way more capable of navigating this journey than I am.

One is obviously the right choice, but it’s also the most unnatural one. So this all leads us back to the question, how can we have an amazing enduring perseverance like Paul?

 

Hebrews 12:1-3

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Paul is keeping his eyes focused on eternity and he desperately clings to the hope of the grace found in the Gospel! He is choosing to accept the hardships because of the joy that is set before him!

That sounds beautiful! But how do we live that out?

First of all, get rid of the unbiblical thinking of what walking with God looks like. Take a peek into the lives of David, Paul or Job. God stretched those men to grow them, and it wasn’t a walk in the park. Some days are peaceful and others are downright brutal.

Secondly, keep your eyes focused on your own walk – the one that God has custom built for you. Your race of endurance will look very different from that of others. They may be sprinting a straight flat mile while you are struggling with your mountain journey. That’s ok! He has plotted out your map perfectly for what you need.

Friend, press on if this is a hard season in life for you. Tough walks with God are not without purpose. They are meant to embolden your faith.

Take His hand and let Him lead you to finish strong.

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