Learning to Walk When I’d Rather Run

Almost every day for the last three weeks, I’ve gone for a walk. Whether in my neighborhood or in Redding, each time I’ve walked alone, one thing has remained constant: These walks are about me and God.

And it’s the best thing I’ve done since coming home … the best and most life-giving part of each day — and not just because I’m breathing in the fresh, forest air (when it’s not on fire, that is!). I pray for my friends and family. I thank God for who He is and what He’s done and continues to do. And I talk and talk and talk to Him about everything that’s on my mind and heart.

Inviting God into my mind and heart is a beautiful thing. He comes not as an infiltrator or invader or even a conqueror, but as a liberator, gladly welcomed in!

God has done so much in me through this month at home, and especially through these walks. I am amazed at how many insights, pictures, and words He’s given me during this time. Particularly since I haven’t had a whole lot of new external stimuli since arriving home: No job yet, only one visit to my church, a limited number of extrahousehold social interactions. And yet, God has blessed me with such a rich thought life. Attaching myself more fully to God has unlocked new depths of creativity and wisdom that continue to amaze and inspire me. Hardly a day goes by that I’m not exploring new ideas in my journal, or rushing home to write down something beautiful or profound that I don’t want to forget.

Of all the things God has taught me during this time, though, the one that keeps coming back is what it looks like to walk with God … and how that’s different from running with God.

Here’s something God said to me almost two weeks ago, and which started this train of thought:

“You’ve often run away from your enemies, and on DTS, you ran into battle with those enemies (even when you didn’t realize it at the time). Now, you are walking and the scenery around you doesn’t change as quickly, and you’re afraid your enemies will catch up to you again. There are two things you need to remember: 1) Whether walking or running, you AREN’T alone. I am with you, and I am your ally! 2) Learning to walk with Me is just as sweet as learning to run with Me. You will see. And you will run again.”

My DTS was a time of running with God — running into the new, the unexplored, the excitingly unfamiliar, the adventure.

In the past, when comparing the run and the walk of faith, of life, I’ve always opted for the run. I ran more than two thousand miles away to university. The next year, I ran to that school’s other campus. And even once there, I never stayed put long, racking up thousands of miles in my car or the nearest airplane, switching majors every other semester, always seeking the next adventure, whether it was in Colorado, or Santa Cruz … England … China.

Sometimes, I was running with God. Other times, I was simply running away from unhappiness and hoping that a new fill-in-the-blank would magically generate a new me.

I never wanted to come back home after my DTS. I didn’t like who I was at home, who I reverted to when I was home, and I thought the best solution, the only solution, would be to run from that person. The first few months of DTS, when someone would ask me what I was planning on doing afterward, I would say something like, “Oh, I don’t know, but my default plan, if God doesn’t open up something else, has been to move to Colorado and find a job.”

A few weeks into outreach, though, God used a conference on identity and my say-it-like-it-is roommate to show me that it was time to stop running. I needed to go home and face the familiar, the routine … and my demons.

This is not the time to be constantly looking ahead, emerging from the bubble of this valley to look longingly at the possible roads ahead. Here is where my tent is for now. Now is the time to practice patience, to imbibe as much as I can while I’m here, to give as well as receive, to forge and to build and to experiment. Now is the time to rest and grow in God, to find Him in the subtlety of everyday life in these familiar surroundings, not in the novelty and rush of the next cross-cultural adventure.

Now is the time to walk.

A Voice That’s Not My Own

On my DTS, I wrote a song to the tune of “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons, then performed it with the help of my ukulele for one of my book reports. The term “book report” is rather loosely applied here, though, as I wanted to write a real song, not a cheesy one. Without further ado, here are the lyrics.

A Voice That’s Not My Own

I’m standing at the altar where they burn
The paper houses filled with all my dreams
I am letting go to give you two untaken hands
Now I have heard a voice that’s not my own
A call that travels gently through my mind
And in its wake I know I see the fingerprints of God.

Chorus:

Take my drifting heart and catch my anxious cries
To hear your voice as you speak to me
And give me ears to hear and grant me strength to heed
Your will as it comes down to me

There is a needle scratching through my past
It leaves a trail of black ink on a page
And I am left with thin straight lines and pools of blackened stains
To you I give the joyful walks we’ve shared
Please also take my wanderings in the mud
Use them in a story shine a light through all I am

Chorus

Now I have a mansion filled with you
A drawing of our story, framed and hung
They testify to you, the potter, you whose name is love.

Middle:

I lift my voice in praise, I raise my face toward you
You are the God who speaks to me
I stand and speak to them, I pray and mountains move
You are the God who speaks through me

Into the Mist

You can’t see the house from the road. A passageway, stark and sinewy in the winter, lush and inviting after the arrival of spring … it’s the 824 feet between a nondescript road in rural Sussex and my home for more than three months.

If you happened upon my blog any time this year, you saw that home, a stately English manor whose picture graced this page. Now, you see that passageway, facing not toward the house, but back out toward the road that lies hidden in mist.

One adventure has reached its well-defined end. Now, I’m stepping into the mist of an unknown future.

In a sense, I do know what happens next. I see the trees lining the drive, and though I can’t see where they end, I know that, for a time, I will be moving in a straight, unbroken line, perhaps at a slower pace than I would like. But it’s the right pace, and it’s the right direction. Maybe the road will curve shortly after I enter the mist … or maybe it won’t.

This blog has lain dormant for almost six months, forced into isolation while I was in China, but not forgotten. I have many things I want to say, many things I will say in the weeks ahead. But for now, all you need to know is that I am back.