Walking in the Spirit
I begin my day with Christ. I carefully direct my first conscious thoughts of the day towards Him, spending the quiet hours of the morning meditating on His word. The morning is always so serene, the only sounds to be heard are the gentle chirping of the birds welcoming the break of dawn. It is at this time that I feel truly in line with Paul’s teachings to the Galatians, “If we live in the Spirit, we also walk in the spirit.” But then, the household begins to stir... The dog’s urgent pining, the rustle of family members, the clamber of voices and the blare of media crowd out the space that only Jesus and I had occupied moments before. Soon the activity of a thrumming household attuning to the day’s schedule outpaces the focused fellowship I enjoyed in solitude and silence.
Oftentimes, the bustle of the day overcomes me and I do not find myself alone with Him in that sacred, quiet place until well after dinner. Somehow the momentum of the day overcomes me and I feel like a runaway horse, breaking stride with Jesus. I find my thoughts directed towards the many things in front of me. Throughout the day, I focus on Him only in brief islands of prayer when I give thanks for a blessing or in exasperation, I ask Him for help.
This troubles me. For Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:17, not to “walk in the futility of [our] minds.” Why does it seem so difficult to walk in the Spirit? I think, if I can just create an intention to meditate on Him with each breath or each step, I will somehow develop a dogged Christ-consciousness despite the multitude of distractions. But the intention fades as surely and as imperceptibly as the serenity of the early morning hours. I think about the runaway horse, bridled and equipped with blinders, how he becomes more attuned with his rider. Could I possibly reign in my mind, by bridling myself and blocking out the stimulus of the day? Well, perhaps not in a fast-moving car or a teacher conference at school or an intensive negotiation...
Or could I... I think back to my run, how I yearn to open up my stride into a sprint and how Jesus constantly reminds me to pace myself to nurse my injury. My run is a metaphor for the day. It is a constant parlay between my mind and my heart. My mind is the runaway horse and Jesus is speaking through my heart. I find myself launching ahead for a few strides and then hearing the soft whisper to temper myself. Downshifting, I intentionally plant each foot fall in the invisible outline of His steps. As I write, I remember the Footprints prayer, where the author recalled scenes from his life in terms of footsteps in the sand. I think, he kept perfect pace with Jesus... why is it such a chore for me to?
There is a famous tightrope walker, Nik Wallenda who shared about his art with Billy Graham. He applied the challenges of walking the tightrope to his walk with Christ in stating, “I think that in our walk with Christ, there’s so many distractions in this world, trying to pull us left and right... it’s about focusing on the Lord - staying focused on the Lord.”
Then it occurred to me that He lives in my heart. He dwells there! And the ongoing parlay between my heart and my mind is perhaps as it should be. We live in the world and we must maneuver through it responding to an assortment of stimuli at any one time but He is truly .always with us. He rests in the seat of our hearts. We do not need to wrestle with our minds to create space for Jesus in our thoughts as long as we consciously attune to Him in our hearts. We were gifted with both our hearts and our minds not so that one may override the other but so that they may operate in tandem. As tightrope walkers will tell you, our bodies work the line but our focus remains ahead. The work then is to remain focused on Him with the heart while the mind simultaneously navigates the external world. Thus as we dwell with the Spirit in our hearts, we walk with the Spirit in the world.