Come Walk with Me

Last month, I received a text from a friend: “Enjoy this fall weather. I’m imagining you in the trails.” When I confessed that I hadn’t even contemplated it, because I hadn’t had the time—the two-month hiatus from this blog is a testament to just how busy I’ve been—she replied, “I say make the time.”

Make the time.

This friend of mine, she knows me. Knows I love being in nature, love the trails, and love the hours I spend hiking, soaking in the beauty of creation, and capturing bits of it through my camera lens. Maybe she also knows those hours alone in the woods are not really spent alone. When I venture onto the trails, I do so with expectation: I expect to meet God there, and I’m never disappointed. That day, I recognized the suggestion that came through my friend’s text for what it was: an invitation from Jesus to take a walk with him.

Come, make the time to walk with me.

A boardwalk covered with fall leaves in the woods.How could I refuse an invitation like that? I couldn’t. I didn’t. A few days later, I took to the trails in my favorite state park and Jesus met me there. We spent hours together roaming, talking, listening, laughing, crying, and admiring his creative handiwork. As Jesus walked with me, his presence was tangible—so tangible that his peace and joy overwhelmed me.

Have you ever heard that invitation? Your invitation may not be one to venture into the woods, but wherever there is for you, the invitation is present nonetheless: Come, make time for me. Spend time with me. Make the time to walk with me. Jesus’ Holy Spirt whispers—sometimes even shouts—an invitation to every heart including yours and mine (Revelation 3:20). You’ll be able to hear it if you are willing to listen (Acts 28:27).

A boardwalk in a marsh with fall foliage in the background. Jesus knew I needed his invitation. He knew what was coming. He knew I’d need the reminder of what it feels like to walk in step with him.

In the intervening weeks since that walk, I have fallen further and further behind in what seems like everything—work, home, service, life in general. I have felt the distance between my present reality, my dreams for it, and my heart grow. I’ve struggled through the gamut of emotions, having been immersed in surprise, anticipation, excitement, discouragement, exhaustion, joy, grief, anxiety, sorrow, and longing. In the busyness that has been my life, in the hectic chaos of my “ordinary day to day,” I’ve found myself longing for deceleration, for order, for a retreat. I’ve also been hoping against hope that a neon sign will light up the sky, labeled with my name, and point the way to the path I’m supposed to be on—even if I’m already on it. I’m quickly approaching a crossroads in my life and career, and a little reassurance wouldn’t hurt.

A boardwalk through a marsh and into a fall forest. What I’ve found is that God doesn’t often send neon signs to light up the sky. At least I haven’t seen any—and I try to keep my eyes open (yes, Acts 28:27 again). Sometimes God does send clouds, pillars of fire (Nehemiah 9:12), stars (Matthew 2:2), and/or people with clear directives (Acts 22:14-16) to show people the paths they are to take. But in my life, at least, God seems to like to work through surprises. Surprises, and whispers.

God’s surprises are amazing and astounding. They both exhilarate and terrify me all at once, but on my best days I’m learning to lean into them and just keep walking with him. His whispers, though—they are what speak to my heart. And, I suspect, God’s way of keeping me on my path. Lately, he’s been whispering a very specific message to me.

I am jealous for you.

A hole in a boardwalk with a mossy branch underneath. He is jealous for me. Think about that for a minute. God becomes jealous for me, for us—for us to put him above all else, to love him and be devoted to him (James 4:5). The thought that he is jealous for me—me!—is thrilling. God loves me so much that he is protective of our relationship and of my love. When I recognized that the whisper I had been hearing over and over was for me, personally, it immediately reminded me of way he intimately loves me (Psalm 139:1-6). It overwhelmed me and thrilled me. I adored his jealousy.

Until the whisper kept coming and I realized what it said about me. Then, on top of my adoration, came shame: God wouldn’t become jealous without cause. If he was jealous for me, then I had given him reason to become jealous for me. Like so many times in my past, I had let the chaos, the anxiety, the fill-in-the-blank come between us and take my eyes away from him. But with this realization another whisper immediately followed: I have already forgiven you. Here is my grace (James 4:6).

Red leaf on a boardwalk. That is the reason I can adore his jealousy. Because when we give him a reason to be jealous, he immediately turns to us and gives us more grace. Grace to turn back, take the hand that he offers, and walk in step with him once again.

Do you hear him? He’s whispering to you as much as he is to me.

Come walk with me.

Blue lake in a marsh surrounded by fall trees and a brilliant blue sky, which are reflected in the lake.