Social distancing is terminology we have all become familiar with. It is a necessary strategy to take to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Though this can help with COVID-19, it also presents challenges emotionally and spiritually. We are social creatures. We were created by our Creator for connection. Thankfully, an activity that is still acceptable during these times is walking. As we walk we are to still practice social distancing. The good news, though, is we do not have to practice social distancing with God. As follower of Christ, we are the temples of God and the Holy Spirit dwells within us.
You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Let that truth sink in for a moment! In these times when social distancing can add to our experience of fear and anxiety, we can rest in the truth that we are not alone. The very presence of God, the creator of the universe, our almighty and everlasting Father, lives with and in us. Let’s explore further then how walking with God can be a vital social distancing strategy.
Walking with God
Have you ever noticed how “going for a walk” helps to calm you down when you are stressed? Research reveals many benefits to walking including maintaining healthy weight, reduced risk of high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, muscle and bone strength, and improved mood. So, we are looking to experience these benefits of walking but with the added benefit of growing closer to our Heavenly Father. Our relationship with God is often referred to in “walking” terms. It is common to ask a Christian friend, “How is your walk with God?” We mean by this how is your relationship with Him? So, this is the objective of a walking strategy, to spend some meaningful time alone with God, walking with Him, listening to Him, and enjoying the time with Him.
After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters… And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:22, 24
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. Deuteronomy 8:6
Ground Rules for Walking
As you prepare to embark on this walking strategy, here a few ground rules for you to consider.
1. No electronics
As much as possible, refrain from electronics. I am a computer geek and love everything about electronics, but they are also a distraction. So, on your walk, try to unplug.
2. No legalism
Lay down any pressure to do this a certain way. There is no checklist to accomplish or a manner that you have to follow every time to be effective. The contents of this material are merely suggestions to guide you, not hard and fast rules you need to follow.
3. Be gracious to yourself
If you are like me, your mind may wander and you realize you have lost focus. In that moment, give yourself some grace and return your attention back to your Father. Sometimes I will use a short phrase to get my heart and mind back on track. I may say something simply like:
- “You are a good Father.”
- “You are good and what you do is good.”
- “Father, your love is better than life.”
- “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Seven Days of Walking
Below are seven different types of walks you can try. This is not an exhaustive list and you may discover other formats that are more meaningful for you. I present these here as ideas for how to connect with God as you walk.
Day 1: Creation
Creation allows us to get perspective, to get outside of ourselves and see a greater picture of who God is. Use all 5 of your senses as you walk. Being in creation can be a delightful experience and as we do so we find delight in our Father who made all things, including ourselves.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. Psalm 19:1-2
Day 2: Memorization
One of the best ways to draw closer to God is to memorize His word. Hebrews 4:12 describes God’s word in this way:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
There is amazing power in the word of God to transform us from the inside out. For this day, we want to allow ourselves to be immersed in a portion of His word, letting that truth fill our every thought and emotion as much as we can during the walk. As we memorize and meditate on God’s word, we open ourselves up to a transformational change. God’s word speaks to our deepest need.
Day 3: Worship
We were born to worship. We crave worship in the depths of our souls. Yet worship so often is the last thing we do as we get distracted by the cares of this life. Job pressures, marital distress, parenting, caring for loved ones and now dealing with COVID-19. We can become self-absorbed in our own pain that we forget to seek the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33). Worship is a wonderful way to get our hearts back into the right place. Feel free to break the rules of no electronics and listen to some worship music as you walk!
Day 4: Popcorn Scripture
Have you ever watched popcorn pop or listened for the sound of popping as you put a bag of popcorn in the microwave? It takes a little time but all of a sudden there is a POP and then another POP and another…. Today we will borrow that popcorn analogy and apply it to our walk. This day is very unscripted. The idea is to allow God to bring to your mind any scripture that you may have heard or memorized in the past that POP into your mind. What we want to do in this day is to allow spiritual truths that we have heard in the past to wash over and remind us of who God is and how much He loves us.
Day 5: Prayer
The goal of the walk today is not to fill 30 minutes with my uninterrupted monologue to God about what’s on my mind. Prayer in its simplest form is communication with God. Communication is two-way, where I lift my prayer before Him and stop long enough to hear Him respond. I never hear an “audible” voice, but more impressions on the heart, or maybe a verse or song may come to mind as I am sharing all of myself with Him. Sometimes there is silence, but it’s in that silence where I can sense God’s presence sometimes in greater ways. A great way to spend this time is to take the Lord’s Prayer and to slowly work through it and pray it in your own words.
Day 6: Thankfulness
Why give thanks? For one, our tendency is toward darkness and negativity. Especially now with social media and constant news updates, it is easy for our minds and hearts to be prone to fear and anxiety. Research is showing the impact of thankfulness on our wellbeing. Do a Google search and you will find a plethora of material that shows the benefits of being thankful. Our Father knows what is best so no wonder He speaks so often about thanksgiving. So, whether we feel like it or not, lets choose to be thankful. Spend the time on this day to “count your many blessings, name them one by one.”
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1-2
Day 7: Self Examination
As you develop a practice of walking and you are sensing the presence of God more deeply, there is a natural and healthy openness to self-examination. The psalm below captures the essence of what we want to do on this walk.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24
As we have enjoyed creation, meditated on His word, worshipped Him, prayed and expressed our thanksgiving to God, we are experiencing with greater awareness that our lives only really have meaning and purpose as we walk with Him. The idea of self-examination is to see what tends to get in the way of us walking in His ways and reflecting His image.
As you enjoy walking with God, I pray that you experience what the writer of the famous hymn “In The Garden” wrote about:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.”
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