‘I walked today where Jesus walked’
BY ROBERT DOCTER –
Sometimes I’ve been close–sensing the warmth of his body as he trod the arid paths around the upper Galilee or fled by boat across the lake to escape the crowd. I’ve heard the labored breathing, recognized the exhaustion, experienced the tensions of confrontations, sensed the disappointments, perceived the frustration, felt the compassion flow from him and wash over any and all around him–even me.
Sometimes I’ve been distant–alone on the edge with my doubt and confusion–hearing his voice come to me, carried by a friendly wind–struggling to ignore the words, to abandon his dream, to separate and isolate and disengage–yet unable to shut the sound of his voice from my conscience and consciousness.
Sometimes I have been white hot, passionate, persistent in my following–in my love for him and for his people. Sometimes I have been lukewarm, ritualistic, rule-bound, motivated by factors unrelated to his hopes for me. Sometimes I have been cold, aloof, uncaring, unstudied, self-centered–like pig swill.
No matter where I am or what I’m like in a particular present moment, the inner ear of my heart hears his voice, sometimes with feelings of affirmation, sometimes with notes of caution –often with warnings surround by care–always available, always helpful. In moments of terrible temptation, as vulnerability and exhaustion invade my soul, I see him poised in a high place revealing to me the vapid weakness of the tempter on whom I seem to bestow such awful power.
His tireless availability, his never-ending grace, his complete understanding of my frailty and fallibility, his friendly connectedness hold me in awe. I can talk to him anytime and know he’s listening. I can come to him seeking forgiveness and know he will grant it. I can relate to him as a fellow traveler on life’s journey and map strategies to keep my meandering path heading, at least, in the right direction.
As I walk with him, he teaches me. He never tires in his effort to teach me humility. From him I learn that each wave of life has both a peak and a trough–that vulnerability follows on the heels of triumph–that in relationships steady consistency allows for predictability–that the miraculous voice of God in the depth of my soul need not be tested to assure its validity–that confession and forgiveness are the heart of spiritual growth.
His words teach me that life is not measured by acquisition, that material goods, while not evil in themselves, can sew poisonous seeds of contempt for others. He took no personal vow of poverty yet preached the value of sacrifice and the difficult temptations of wealth.
He taught me to talk to him and his father in prayer–that my attitude in prayer is more important than my words–that self-determined piety is simply arrogance in disguise–that approaching the father in any but the most humble of ways is the essence of insolent presumption–that I must bring expectant faith with me in my prayers.
In my walk with him, I have learned that he loves me enough to set me free–to make my own choices, plan my own course, cherish my own set of values, set my own pace, choose my own associates. I have learned he will never impose himself on me. I can be as independent as I want. But somehow I choose to hear his calm, thoughtful voice still calling me to relationship with him. In all my independence, his never ending love awakens me to his presence–and in it –I am never alone