In Step

IMG_E4464-202x300.jpgIt is a treat to spend time in warmer places during the winter months when harsher weather and colder temperatures are a staple farther north. We are not snowbirds as many people are from late fall until sometime in the spring, but trips planned here and there to sunnier climes provide a break from biting temps and frozen precipitation. A great benefit of such a trip is to be able to enjoy outdoor activities, and in my case, that means being able to take walks in the fresh air for exercise versus pounding a treadmill indoors with a stationary view.

Staying with family in Southern California, I was ready to go on one of those said walks, and looking at the sad face of the furry grandchild occupying space in that home, I thought it would be altruistic of me to take him along. After all, as a fairly large dog in a very modest home complete with a postage stamp yard, I assumed he would be more than enthused to join me. I got him ready with harness and leash, and we headed out the door and down the complex walkway to the main sidewalk adjacent to the street. My dear doggie companion was apparently not in the same headspace as I, and as I began to walk, it felt as if I were dragging a one-hundred-pound bag of cement behind me! Cash was on his feet, but his feet stayed as planted as they could be, only lifting and moving as my increasingly sore arm muscles could make them budge. This was fairly much the case for about a half hour of walking, which basically only took place along their street. In all fairness, Cash did pick up the pace as we neared their house again. So much for the health benefits of walking. At least my arms got quite the workout!
This experience caused me to wonder how many times I must look like Cash in relation to staying in step with God. I may start out trotting on the beginning walkway only to drag or come to a stop on God’s main sidewalk. This can happen in various areas in which we, as God’s children, should be involved. Our resistance can diminish true worship, hamper fellowship with others, deter speaking out for Jesus, or hinder our service to others in the church or the community. I know God is all-powerful and has a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm” according to numerous Scripture references in the Bible, but it is easy to jokingly think that some of his muscle comes from the strain I put on his extremities.
As much as our hesitation or cooperation can definitely affect others, it also impacts us personally. There are two Bible stories that come to mind, one in the Old Testament and one in the New. Though in 2 Peter 2:7, he is referred to as “righteous Lot,” he may have wound up being remembered as lingering Lot for his hesitancy to leave the wicked city of Sodom when God was poised to destroy it. “As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city” (Genesis 19:15-16, ESV). There is much more to the story that does not bode well for Lot and his family, but his life was spared because of God’s love and compassion that caused the angels to drag him out of the city. Otherwise, his account would have ended in Sodom.
Speaking of Peter, there is a passage in the Book of Acts that recounts his experience in prison in Jerusalem. Peter, having been put in prison for his faith by King Herod, had the blessing of the church praying for him. cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:7, ESV). The angel gave further instructions, and Peter followed him to his rescue. At times he didn’t even know if the scene was real or a dream, but suffice it to say, he was able to continue his earthly journey with God because he stayed in step with the plan God had for him.
While our stories may or may not include visible heavenly beings prodding us to follow the Lord, we are still urged to stay in step with him. But we do have the Holy Spirit to help us in this endeavor: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25, ESV). He can keep us on track in our journey with the Lord. Let’s stop dragging and pulling back as he is leading. Let’s stay in step with him.
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