WALKING the WALK
BY: JAN ANTONSSON
APRIL 26 2013
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3)
I’ve been thinking this week about people who are quick to make a confession of what they believe, how they feel, or what they think. While there’s nothing wrong with that, the problem is that people like me who file by words tend to take what other people say literally, when in fact these positive confessors may just be expressing how they wish they were, how they wish they behaved, how they wish they felt, rather than the reality in their lives. Or, they may subscribe to the spurious doctrine out there that if you declare something often enough, it will become true. Maybe like me, you have noticed that there’s often a great gulf fixed between “Talking the talk,” and “Walking the walk.”
Back in the 1962, I earned a teaching credential from Southwest Missouri State Teachers’ College. Some of the classes that were designed to show us how to teach were pretty lame, bringing to mind the saying: “Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach; and those that can’t teach, teach teachers.” They talked a good game, but when it came to walking it out, some of our teachers were pitiful.
My point in making this rather unkind observation is that especially for Christians, talk is cheap, for as the saying goes, “all that glitters is not gold.” Jesus said the world would know us by our fruits, and you just can’t fake that. The Pharisees of old talked a good game, but Jesus blew them out of the water with His piercing evaluations of how they really were. Only God knows us through and through, which is why He is the only one qualified to judge us.
And I’m sure you have concluded as I have that “Walking the walk” is not about what we say, but about the unconditional love of God that flows from us to others. If love is missing, then the effort is futile and the results pitiful.
Somewhere between the statements of what we think we should be or how we think we should act and the reality of our lives lies the purpose and will of God. A scripture we often quoted in our Charismatic days was that God gives us the desires of our heart. In our youthful inexperience of walking in the spirit, we sometimes hoped it meant He would give us whatever we wanted. That thought is still out there. Someone sent me a writing today where the advice of how to get what we want was based on Ps. 37:4: “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
After being dragged through a lot of cactus patches and being tossed around in the divine combine, I came to the realization that we don’t get to decide for ourselves what we want, because He puts on our hearts the things that He wants us to desire. Were that not the case, He wouldn’t be sitting on the throne. We would be. The reality is, of course, that He Himself is the desire of our heart, our “very great reward.” (Gen. 15:1) He is the fountainhead, the source of meeting all our needs and everything we could ever want. When we pray for His gifts, we often miss the point that it’s the GIVER we need, and He is always there.
There’s also often a great divide between the things that occupy our minds, the things that worry or frustrate us and His eternal plan for each one of us. I would be in despair about how far I miss the mark of His high calling in that area, if it were not for the fact that God himself is the author of our works and He will neither sleep nor slumber nor stop until he has accomplished everything that he purposed for us, before the foundation of the world!
I no longer keep a written prayer list like I did back in the day when I would studiously, methodically, and obsessively go over it every time I prayed. God was very patient with me, until the day when it came to me in a flash that He didn’t need me to remind Him of all these folks and what they needed because He already knew, and in fact, He was the one who put them on my heart in the first place. Now, I only pray for those He leads me to pray for, usually the ones I am worrying about for one reason or the other.
Worry is a sin, I think, because what it says is, “I don’t trust you God.” It can be a bad habit which sometimes rears its ugly head when thoughts and fears come into our mind. I grew up in a family which intimated that their worry about me proved that they loved me, but rather than conveying love, it always made me feel guilty when someone worried about me.
When I was stressing and worrying recently over a family member who appears to be in a losing battle with cancer, I was confronted, and at the same time comforted again, by Paul’s wonderful statement to the Philippians found in chapter 4, verse 19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” This verse has currently become my mantra.
When I wake up at three in the morning, troubled by something or worrying about someone, I consciously choose to quote that verse, to say it, and it always eases my anxiety. I’ve gone back to kindergarten if you will, back to the basics, back to the things, the first principles that I learned when I first began to walk in the Spirit, which still bring power and life for me.
The Phillip’s version of Eph. 1:11 is very life affirming, comforting, and empowering: “In Christ we have been given an inheritance, since we were destined for this, by the One who works out all his purposes according to the design of his own will.” Because God has EVERYTHING under control, I don’t have to worry and fret about anything! Lord, please make that a reality in my life!
Isaiah always under girds the power and might of Almighty God with the supporting foundation of His comfort and continual care as we walk the path He chose for us: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isa. 43:2)
There’s no way that I can coerce or cajole, threaten or bribe, or in any way force myself to walk the walk, so while I’m waiting for Him to bring the desired result to pass, because He’s the only one who can, I thank Him so much for the beautiful scriptures, the glorious affirmations of His power and might and majesty. Scripture gives us the expectation that our Father, who brought us into this world, who has guided our steps always, will continually, on-goingly and progressively lead us in the paths of His righteousness, not our own. It won’t be by our feeble works, confessions, or decisions, but by His grace alone!
Father, we ask You now to revitalize Your Living Word, Christ Himself, afresh to us and in us, and through us. We eagerly desire that You make us to lie down in green pastures, walk with us beside the still waters, and restore our souls for Your name’s sake. Our cups will be continuously filled with Yourself; surely goodness and mercy shall overtake us every day of our lives, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord, singing Your praises now and forever. We do not walk alone Father, and we ask You to make us light bearers and good news bringers to all those whose paths we cross. In Christ we ask it, amen.