Sunday, April 22, 2018

Walking with God

In the absence of a set of Bible study notes I am working my way through a book I picked up in the sales sometime earlier this year.

The book, “Walking with God” by E A Johnston (I always liked the idea of publishing my poetry books under the name of M J Kerr), looks at the life of Enoch. I preached a sermon on Enoch a long time ago. I was kind of encouraged that it wasn’t until he was 65 that Enoch began walking with God. There’s a side of me that tells me that I have another five years before I need to take my walk with God seriously if I am to be like Enoch! There’s another voice that tells me not to be so silly – scripture isn’t meant to be read like that.

The book doesn’t just talk about Enoch but mines the seams of Christian history over the last two or three hundred years, picking out one gem after another. Christians can probably tell you a lot about Abraham and David, Nehemiah and Paul but I wonder if they could tell you much about Robert Murry McCheyne or C T Studd. I know them from my theology degree and the years I spent with the Plymouth Brethren Church where reading the latest best sellers in W H Smith was not encouraged. At the time I had collected and read every Dick Francis novel going. It broke my heart when I felt compelled to get rid of them.

The book doesn’t tell you much about these men and women who stand out as remarkable men and women. Each person gets three or four paragraphs. It makes mention of getting up at four in the morning, of asking God for a big heart, of looking at the sky and the clouds and having a greater sense of the divine, of spending time with others in worship and prayer and being refreshed, of crying out to God to be filled, of eloquence God-given in their preaching, of letting God do what He will do, how and when He wishes.

We have a habit of labelling these people, and the Bible heroes, as super-spiritual and out of our league but they were people who made the decision to walk with, talk with, chase after and catch God – no half measures. We are all capable of doing that.

One of the chapters in the book was dedicated to Duncan Campbell who was a part of the revival on the Isle of Lewis in the late 1940s and early 50s. To anyone who says that he started it, Duncan Campbell insisted that it was happening before he arrived and it wasn’t him at all, but totally God. He was just there. He also talks about the place of prayer.

Reading the book, so far, has made me dissatisfied. I would like to point a finger at the church today and say it’s at fault. I am sure they are out there, the men and women like Duncan Campbell and the like.  But that’s the problem – we look for the men and the women like them and fail ourselves to be those men and women like them. We think it’s someone else’s job, someone special, someone with the time to spend with God, someone not holding down a full time job, someone in full time ministry, someone obviously gifted – someone not me. And the enemy wins when he has us thinking like that.

I have a picture that often comes to mind when I think about Enoch. I see a boy sitting on a wall swinging his legs and looking down the lane. Someone, an old man, walks slowly towards him. A smile lights up the boy’s face. He jumps down from the wall and begins to walk in step with him.

“Can I walk with you a while, mister?” The boy always asks and never presumes. I’m not sure it the man ever answers, but the two of them walk down the path together talking sometimes, silent sometimes, but always together.

Every day the boy is waiting, sitting on the wall, knowing his friend will come by and wanting so badly to walk with him. Every day he jumps down from the wall.

There’s never a day when the boy is not made welcome.

That’s how I picture Enoch and God.

How I picture God and I is sometimes like that. Sometimes though, I’m not sitting on the wall waiting. Sometimes I’m doing something else entirely. I’m not looking down the lane. Sometimes God walks by and I’m not sitting on the wall. God misses me. We are not together talking sometimes, silent sometimes.

And my day is a little less bright because of it.

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