Many years ago, I heard Chuck Swindoll recount an article on the advantages of walking vs. running. “Walking places less stress on your body, there is less risk of injury, and if you walk fast enough, five miles per hour for 45 minutes or more, you can achieve just as much as if you were running.”
The last sentence of the article particularly caught my attention: “Walking is not a glamorous sport. It has none of the panache of, let’s say, mountain climbing. Walking sounds so humdrum, so pedestrian. But at the right pace and with regularity, it can be the best thing you can do for your body.”
Then Chuck made this application to the Christian life.
“Living the Christian life is not glamorous. Walking with God has none of the panache of miraculous healings, speaking in tongues, or being slain in the spirit. Walking with God sounds so humdrum, so pedestrian. But done at the right pace and with regularity, walking with God can be the best thing you can do for your soul.”
Genesis 17 provides some clear insights concerning what is involved in walking with God. Let’s discover why walking with God, not running, is the best way to maintain your spiritual health.
1. Waiting On God’s Timing (Genesis 17:1)
Genesis 17:1 says, “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless.’”
There is a reason Abraham’s age is given. Compare it to verse 16 of the previous chapter. Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86, and Abraham did not hear from God for 13 more years. 13 years of nothing but silence from Heaven.
I once shared a dramatic and almost instantaneous answer to prayer that served as a confirmation to go forward with our new campus. I prayed in the morning, and a surprising answer came six hours later.
But I must confess that is not what usually happens when I pray. It doesn’t even take one hand to count the times I have had such an immediate and dramatic answer to prayer. Such occurrences are rare—that is why they are called miracles. Most of the time, we wait.
Maybe you are also facing one of those barren times in your spiritual life. As best you can, you’ve removed all known sins from your life, submitted yourself to God’s will, and spent time in prayer and Bible Study—and yet God is silent. Abraham learned firsthand that walking with God sometimes means waiting on God to act or to speak.
2. Trusting In God’s Power
Now, remember Abraham and Sarah’s situation. God has promised to make Abraham the father of a great nation. His name, actually Abram, meant “Exalted Father.”
Yet, for years he and Sarah had no children. Can you imagine how embarrassing it must have been, especially given Abraham’s original name, Abram? Just imagine this scene. Abraham was a wealthy man. He owned many water wells. And so it must have happened a thousand times that strangers stopped and asked Abraham permission to water their herds.
In the oriental custom, they would politely introduce themselves. “My name is Allah,” one would say. Another would say, “My name is Ali Baba.” And then they would turn to the patriarch and say, “And what is your name?” “Abram,” he would reply, knowing what was coming next. “Abram,” “Exalted Father,” what a name. Now, EXACTLY how many children do you have?
“None.” What did you say? We must have misunderstood. “None.”
They could barely contain their laughter. EXALTED FATHER? And no children?
I can imagine Abraham’s first thought. He can picture those same travelers stopping by to water their herds and hearing that Abram has now decided to change his name to Abraham—father of MANY, and with a smile, they ask, “And how many children do you have now? “One.” And yet, despite the natural questioning accompanying such a revelation, Abraham believed God.
Notice here the two things Abraham focused on as he considered God’s promise:
- The Bleakness of His Circumstances (Romans 4:18-19)
He looked at his aging body in the mirror and said, there is no way I can pull this fatherhood deal off. I’m 99 years old. He looked at Sara, his wife, and that wasn’t much encouragement either—her womb had become a tomb. His situation was bleak.
- The Greatness of His God (Romans 4:20-21)
Abraham weighed his circumstances against what he knew about God and concluded that God was bigger than his circumstances. Have you come to that conclusion yet? Are you convinced that God is more significant than your problem?
3. Listening To God’s Voice
If we are going to walk with God, it means there are times we must set aside to listen to the voice of God.
When I talk about listening to God, I am not even talking about prayer time—prayer is talking with God. And again, that is vital to our spiritual life. No, my question is this. When in your daily schedule do you shut your Bible, close your mouth, and allow God’s still, small voice to speak to you?
“Lord, speak to me. Reveal to me what you want in my life.” When listening to the voice of God, allow me to suggest four things to listen for.
- Sins to Abandon (Psalm 139:23-24)
- Relationships to Mend (Matthew 5:23-24)
- Gifts to Offer (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
- Commands to Follow (Psalm 119:34)
4. Obeying God’s Commands
Genesis 17:23 says, “Then Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all the servants who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s household, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the very same day as God had said to him.”
Underline the phrase “in the very same day.” Abraham did not listen to God’s command and said, “God, I’ll sure consider your request. Let me think it over, and I’ll get back to you soon, I promise.” No, the Bible says he obeyed immediately.
And there, I think you find the secret of walking with God—being known as a friend of God. Jesus said, in John 15:14, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.”
That is what walking with God is all about. I know it sounds humdrum and pedestrian but done with regularity, it’s the best thing you can do for your soul.
Full Passage: Genesis 17:1-27