Walking with God

Years ago I met the now deceased Bill Shea in the Adventist center in Jerusalem. Bill trained as a medical doctor, but later switched to theology and became an accomplished and much appreciated theological scholar. He had a keen sense of humor. We talked about the tourists who visit Israel en masse, and about the many guests who stay at the church center. Bill remarked that the tempo of these tourists is often very high. He said: Most people ran today in the places where Jesus walked.

I am a keen walker. In the past week I made two substantial walks. One was about sixteen kilometers and the other almost twenty. I like to walk at a brisk pace, but try not to make it a race. It is good for my physical condition, but the main thing for me is to enjoy it.

In the Dutch language wandelen (walking) is quite different from going. Dutchmen do not often say that they walk to the bus or to the train station, whereas in English walking and going are, it seems to me, often used almost synonymously. The Germans have two distinct words for walking and goingspazieren and geheh/laufen. Likewise in French: se promener has a different feel to it than aller.

Walking has the connotation of sports and recreation. I was thinking of this when I read in Genesis 5 about Enoch. In many Bible translation we read that Enoch walked with God. Other translations describe Enoch’s relationship in other words as very inimate.

Walking with God—how do we do this? Many Christians (and this certainly applies to Seventh-day Adventist) are with regard to their relationship with God perhaps more inspired by Paul’s counsel to run the race, so that we, in the end, may receive the crown of victory, than by the metaphor of walking with God. Adventists tend to be do-ers rather than thinkers. The church organisation keeps coming with all kinds activities, that push us from one project to the next. At present it is called Total Member Involvement. Soon it will be something else again.

Perhaps we should be more intent on walking with God, rather than on always running for him. Perhaps we should put more emphasis on the development and on the nurturing of our spiritual life than on constant activity. Walking with God means relaxing in the rest that he provides.