Thursday, October 20, 2016

Let Us Walk in the light of the Lord

Unlike blog posts about prayer, resisting temptation, and serving God, this blog post will not apply to everybody.  But it will apply to many of you, and for a few of you it may lead to blessings of many kinds.  You may find the Spirit guiding your heart and mind more often.  You might feel a lift in your emotions.  Your health may improve and you might live longer.

This post is about walking.  Literal walking. (I totally admit that the verse from Isaiah above is not about literal walking, but it’s still a great verse!)

I walk for exercise every day.  Most days I walk between 1.5 and 3 miles, which is no great distance.  Except when it is pouring rain or sleeting I very rarely miss my walk. Including the time it takes to get ready, most days I spend between 45 minutes and just over an hour on walking. 

I am writing to encourage you to consider walking.  There are many benefits.

Health Benefits

Paul wrote:

1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

While this verse is applicable to us and to this topic, we need to keep in mind some major differences between Paul’s day and our own.  In Paul’s day almost everyone who was physically capable of doing so got a lot more exercise than we do today.  There are two reasons this was true.  First, the vast majority of work in Paul’s day involved physical labor.  Today, most of you probably have jobs like mine which require very little physical labor.  We sit and we ride.  Second, the main mode of transportation in Paul’s day was walking.  Most people walked a lot.  So when Paul talked about “physical training” being of “some value” he was talking about the level of training required of athletes.

In a world where neither work nor transportation requires physical exercise for most of us, getting a little physical exercise becomes much more valuable.  Many studies show that being overweight is one of the biggest (perhaps the biggest) lifestyle health issues in the US today (see articles here, here, and here).  Walking is not a magic solution to this problem, but it helps!

Besides being healthier yourself, when you get regular exercise you are a good example to others.

Emotional Benefits

During times when I have struggled with depression and anxiety, I have found regular walks to be a significant benefit.  Of course God’s Word, prayer, and encouraging Christian fellowship are even more important.  But for me, quiet walks have been a blessing from the Lord to help me through tough times.  This has been true over and over in my life. It was even true when I lived in a big, crowded, dirty, noisy, third world city (not the most ideal place for peaceful walks!).  Of course, it is even nicer taking walks in the beautiful rural setting where I now live.

Spiritual Benefits

Whenever I go for a walk, I ask God to walk and talk with me.  And He graciously does.
I often am blessed with important insights for my life and ministry while on walks.  I also often have very meaningful and uplifting times of worship.  I pray a lot while walking. Sometimes I sing (usually to myself or very quietly, but occasionally out loud). Every minute of walking does not need to be focused on prayer and worship, but some of it can be and should be.

Praying while you walk in addition to and as an extension of “closet prayer time” is a wonderful blessing.

I Know Walking Is Not for Everyone

Some of you have types of work which involve a lot of physical exercise.  When you are relaxing you might not want to do so with more physical exercise.  My guess is that this only applies to a small fraction of those reading my blog.

Some of you cannot take long walks due to health problems.  I just got off my knees praying that God will help you and show you mercy in many ways.  Don’t worry about the things you cannot do.  God will give you grace.  Just focus on the things you can do.  God bless you!

Most of you are very busy. If your life does not include regular exercise, I encourage you to try to find time to exercise some.  It’s true that in the short run, adding a walk to your daily routine will take away some of the precious time and energy you have.  On days that I know I am going to be super extra busy I often cut my walk down to just one mile.  But in the long run, I am convinced that for most people a little exercise will increase your energy level.  And for some of you it will literally prolong your life.  For those who are in a season where you honestly just can’t spare even forty minutes a day, I pray that God will help you through this tough time and give you extra grace.

Some of you are way more athletic than I am.  You get exercise by biking or swimming or running or sports.  God bless you!  For many people walking will be the best choice for exercise because it is relatively easy, does not require special equipment, and can be done almost anywhere.  For you athletes, keep going for it, but don’t let your physical exercise be a higher priority than serving and worshiping God.

I pray that God will encourage some of you to try walking.  If you do, I pray that He will bless your health, emotions, and spiritual life as you walk.  I pray that God will give extra grace and blessings to those of you who can’t go on walks.  God bless you all!

p.s.  A few “testimonies” in the comments sections might be nice if you are already a “walker” and find it to be a blessing like I do.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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