Oswald Chambers had a good word based on Isaiah 40:31: ” There is no thrill in walking; it is the test of all the stable qualities…. God does not say–Be Spiritual, but–‘Walk before Me.'” In other words, we aren’t made to live in the stratosphere of spiritual or emotional or physical experience. Most of life is a steady, rhythmic walk. An enjoyable ramble at best; a plodding march at worst. But either way, a walk, and one where, each step, Jesus extends an invitation to follow Him.
I took a walk over lunch time one day, plodding over a long list of things I had to do. As I hurried back to go to a meeting, I managed to smile at a woman passing by. She was carrying two plastic shopping bags, and she returned my smile with a half toothless grin. “Can I ask you a question?” she said.
Really, she said, she needed a favor. Her car wasn’t running. Her back was bad. The bags she carried were heavy with food and clothes from the social service mission up the street. She wondered if I could give her a ride the five or six blocks to where she lived.
My mind flipped through options: I’ll be late for my meeting. I should beg off. What can I give her? How can I help? How can I serve this woman?
In the end, it just came out of my mouth. “Let me walk with you. I’ll carry your bags.”
“Really?” she said. “Really? That would sure help my back.” She let me take her load, and she wasn’t kidding. My goodness, those bags were heavy! Then together we walked down the street.
After the first block, she told me how her husband had kept her from making friends or getting a job, then left and took everything with him. In the second block, I told her I knew what it felt like to start over, that my divorce had only been final 10 days. She looked at me and said, “It’s been two months for me. Don’t you worry. It does get better, easier.” By the third block, I’d told her my name and she told me hers. In the fourth block, she talked about her daughter, her sick father, her 71-year-old friend who had two Yorkie puppies.
We were two blocks shy of where she said she lived, when we stopped for a red light at the corner. “I’ll carry it from here,” she said, “you gave me a rest. Now you need to get on back to your meeting.” I couldn’t just let her go like that. I stalled by digging through my purse for a few dollars toward bus fare for the next errand she might have to run. Then I looked her in the eyes and smiled. I wrapped my arms around her neck. I told her it was so nice to meet her.
Her load was so heavy, she couldn’t hug me back, but she leaned into me and said, “It was nice to meet you, too.”
Then she crossed the street and went on her way. I turned back the four blocks we’d just crossed together, but crying now, for beauty and glory. Two broken women, strangers on the street. No transcendent conversion, no big deal, really. But for a few steps, I carried her burden and she eased mine. Just walking together. That’s all.
Just walking together. That’s everything.