By the time I had gotten to church yesterday morning, God had already spoken His Word to my heart. He spoke while I stood in the bathroom with my hair wrapped around a curling iron listening to a new Jesus Culture song “Walk With Me.” It was my third time hearing the words, but the first time they pierced my heart.
The song is a prayer. It simply asks God to walk with us. As she sang, I realized that all my life I had focused on the opposite — making sure that I walked with God. In truth, as I tried to walk with Him, I realized over and over again that I was a failure at keeping up with the pace. I couldn’t walk in the way He expected me to — or maybe I should say the way I expected of myself.
All my life I’ve felt that weight of God’s expectations: to make all the right choices, say the right words, have the right attitude, be the perfect pastor’s/missionary wife, never be unhappy – at least where people can see. However, recently I realized that the expectation was not coming from God, it was coming from ME. All those things I had felt I needed to do or be was my need for God’s approval. What I have failed to realize for a long time was that I already had His approval before I ever made a move in His direction.
The whole concept in this song is inviting God to walk with us through the everyday, mundane and miraculous moments we experience. It’s not about seeing God up ahead of us and running to catch up with Him, gaining ground when we keep a “commandment” or make a “godly” choice. In her book Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of Your Try Hard Life, Emily Freeman says, “Fear drives. But Love leads.” All those expectations that I felt — and probably you as well — was out a fear. But the book of first book of John it says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” The Message version says it a little better: “There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life–fear of death, fear of judgement–is not one yet fully formed in love” (1 John 4:18) There is very little love in a relationship based solely on meeting expectations and keeping regulations. But in a relationship where two have chosen to “walk” the road of life together, sharing the happy, the confusing, the boring, the heart-wrenching moments, there is love. Walking with God, enables us to understand the perfect love that kills all fear.
As I let the words wash over me, I realized that asking God to simply walk with me each day meant that I could share it all with Him without the pressure of being perfect. He would not only be my companion throughout the days but my guide – and in my mind right next to me when the sun rose on unbearable days. He would share them with me. He would give me words of guidance just as a close friend might when we walked around the neighborhood block together and shared our thoughts, problems, and victories. It all meant so much more than the constant dawn-breaking pressure that I had to measure up.
The song goes on to ask each “name” of God to walk with us. It’s amazing how each of these names relates to who we are on a daily basis.
- Author of the World, walk with me – He already designed and ordained this day, so why worry about what is ahead of me? He knows the way; I get to walk it with Him.
- Ruler of the Earth, walk with me – Today the one standing beside me controls everything and I know His love for me ensures that He only has my best interests at heart.
- Calmer of the storm, walk with me – On those days when getting out of bed to face the storm that rages in my life, He is the one who brings peace on our walk and freely shares it with me.
- Healer of my heart, walk with me – There are things that happened in my past that damaged my heart – people’s words, unexpected events, uncontrollable circumstances, poor choices — but as He walks with me today, He will heal my heart and those things will fade away in his perfect love.
- Light for every step, walk with me – The future doesn’t always look bright as an old song says, but with God there is light for the step that is next and He will be there walking with us as we take that step even though we don’t see the end of the path.
- Giver of each breath, walk with me – Each time I breathe, it means that God still has a purpose for me, and when I invite him to walk with me, He will make that purpose known.
I don’t think God ever wanted to walk ahead of us hoping we’d catch up or at least stay in line behind him. In fact, I think the reason He sent Jesus (Emmanuel) was to let us know He wanted to be WITH us. He wants to walk these days with us, not have us run behind him worried that the next leg of the journey will be the one that causes us to stop and catch our breath only to lose sight of Him.
Truthfully, all along, while we were showing him our certificates of righteous races won, he just wanted to take a stroll with us and share the day together. So my prayer has changed to simply “God, walk this day with me.” There’s no pressure there. He shows up for the stroll and always will.