Some of you will know, from what I’ve written previously, that almost every day nowadays, I take an early morning walk of around two-and-a-half miles down to Oddicombe beach and back home again.
Many of my friends will be surprised to hear this because they believe I hate walking.
That’s only partly right. The truth is, I don’t like walking for no good reason.
I’m also not a fan of gently strolling in the countryside; I can’t think of anything more boring. To my mind, one green field looks very much like any other one. And although I’m sure most won’t agree with me, in my opinion the two words ‘walking holiday’ never belong together!
However, my pre-breakfast strolls have a purpose; since the end of March the gym I attend a few times a week has been closed and so I’ve taken to walking to get the blood pumping around my body on a daily basis.
In a few weeks’ time, I’ll be walking for another good reason.
On Monday, September 7, I’m joining with a small group of local church folk to walk the eight-and-a-half mile stretch of coastal pathway from Torquay harbour to Brixham.
The purpose of the walk is to highlight the excellent supportive work of the Torbay Hospital League of Friends, and also to help raise funds towards the £1.5 million target for equipment for the soon-to-be-built new A&E department.
Any donations you could spare will be greatly appreciated. Just go to www.thlof.co.uk and click on ‘donate now’.
I’m an observer of people and I reckon you can tell a lot about others by the way they walk: are they in a hurry; are they anxious; are they in love; have they just robbed a bank?
In the Bible, walking is equated with living. In those days walking was the most common means of getting about. Only the very rich could afford a chariot or camels or be carried around on a sedan chair by servants; for everyone else walking was a normal aspect of everyday life.
With this in mind, the Apostle Paul encouraged believers at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 to ‘walk in a way that pleases God’.
And early in the Old Testament, in Genesis 5:24, one of the few things we’re told about a man called Enoch is that he ‘walked faithfully with God’.
In other words, Enoch lived his life according to the Lord’s ways.
Of course, walking can often be hampered by rocky and rough terrain. Similarly in life, we encounter rough and rocky circumstances that make living far from comfortable.
Just in the past couple of weeks I’ve spent time with and prayed for people confronted by a whole variety of life issues: there’s a family grieving the loss of a loved one; another experiencing the frustration of unemployment; more than one person coping with a debilitating medical condition; and then there’s also a couple who, after a long lockdown wait, are finally able to celebrate their marriage.
Towards the end of the Bible, in Jude 24, we find a prayer that begins with this phrase: “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling”, reminding anyone and everyone prepared to put their trust in God that he promises his supportive presence, however difficult the pathway we journey along might be.
Although I cannot physically see Jesus next to me, Christians believe that by his Spirit, he is always at our side.
I once heard someone describe Jesus as ‘my bridge over troubled water’. But I don’t believe that’s true, because I’ve discovered that he’s much more than that; he walks alongside me as I go through life’s troubled waters; and his caring, empowering companionship makes all the difference in the world.
As my Liverpool-supporting friend Paul might tell me, when it comes to Jesus and me and life, ‘You never walk alone’.