Thursday, March 29, 2007

walking, talking, learning, living

I feel reconnected with God. A variety of people, places and ponderings (come on, I had to stick with the alliteration ...) have led me to this point. Some I expected, but most I didn't.

Since about 1996, I've heard many times people talk about their "walk with God," as a noun. Like it's something tangible. And, honestly, I've never truly understood that phrase until this week, as silly as that sounds. I get the "walk with God," as a verb, as in follow. But I've struggled with the noun.

Then I read this.

And I thought about walking.

Jaclyn and I walk regularly (so what if I chose a pedicure over walking one afternoon this week!), and I enjoy it for many reasons. First, I like Jaclyn as my walking partner. We know each other and we don't have to start with a bunch of background before launching into a story. We just launch, sometimes talking back and forth between subjects as we make the five laps around the trail at the park. Also, I like walking, as in exercising. Sure, I could always walk faster and longer and brisker. But something is better than nothing. Just ask my diabetes. And an added bonus this past year as been Luke. He loves being outside and the looks on his face these days are too precious for words.

So walking becomes a routine part of our day, but that doesn't make it any less valuable.

We walk. A verb.
We go on walks. Nouns.
Ask me how my walk was. That's also a noun. But it could easily be an analogy for our friendship.

OK, so back to the spiritual walk.

God is the creator the universe. But, hey, he likes for me to walk with him. (Verb.) So ask me how my walk is, something I really never understand. And I've come to learn that my walk (noun) is my relationship.

And, honestly, it's far from perfect. But God's been my walking partner lately. Just to bring the analogy full circle, some of the realization that I needed more spiritual exercise came while at the park, walking the loop with Jaclyn.

But some of the realization also came from strangers at the grocery store. And my husband. And co-workers. And song lyrics. And a baby that is expected to be born in six weeks. And my family as people I love deal with drama. And a sister-in-law with whom I'm building a friendship. And nieces and a nephew who give child-like faith new meaning to me. And ...

There are so many moments that are orchestrated so beautifully yet sometimes become background noise to our chaotic days that brought me here.

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. ... You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. --Galatians 3:22, 26-29

And then I read this amazing definition of grace that Beth Moore quotes in the study I am doing: "That which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance, for a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks, gratitude. A favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver; unearned and unmerited favor. (Grace) stands in direct antithesis to ... works, the two being mutually exclusive. God's grace affects man's sinfulness and not only forgives the repentant sinner, but brings joy and thankfulness to him. It changes the individual to a new creature without destroying his individuality."

And then I read about God as "Abba, Father," which I have heard Brennan Manning speak about before. But it hit home again.

Because you are sons (and daughters!), God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." -- Galatians 4:6

I thought about my family, and how despite threads of similarities, we are so different. I love them all the same, but I realize that just because "that's how I was raised" (something I much too often say to myself) doesn't mean that's how life has to be now. God allows plenty of room for gracious changes, even if it does cut into the heart.

Hearing that baby's heartbeat and see that girl's belly become bigger, I think about Cate's roots and Cate's future and the purpose in a beautiful, smart 19-year-old girl decided she needed to have this baby but never considered keeping her for herself.

... the moment you believed with your heart and confessed with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, that genealogy became your own. Your heritage became a holy one. You're lineage became royalty. Your spiritual bloodline stems all the way back to Abraham ... you are a child of promise. ... We are added to the family of God by way of blessed adoption! --Beth Moore in "Living Beyond Yourself"

The fact God "adopts" me like we plan to do for Cate makes the attorney bills and paperwork seem so insignificant.

Jesus knew how difficult it would be to convince us to break old habits and to overcome our previous heritage. ... Not only did we receive a new Father, but we also were invited to partake in a very distinct relationship with that Father. ... Abba is a term of extreme endearment expressed by a young child to his beloved father, his hero, the one who kisses his scraped knee and dries his fresh tears. Abba would be the word used only for a parent who was familiar, available, trustworthy, and comforting. Literally, it is "Daddy, my Daddy."

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