My family has been taking neighborhood walks and hitting nearby trails more in the midst of the pandemic, and we’ve had some memorable experiences we’d have missed out on, if we’d taken these opportunities for granted.
One evening as my daughter and I walked our cocker spaniel, Cosmo, we came across a pair of young sparrows huddled against the curb. “Mom, I think one of them is hurt. Should I see if it’s okay?” She gently picked up one of the birds, checking its wings and feet for injury. As it turns out, these birds were fledglings, and one could clearly fly better than the other. The stronger bird flew a few feet away into a field, and my daughter brought the birdie brother or sister over to join its nestmate. It was wonderful to see that kind of loyalty among God’s creatures, and I pointed out what a sweet example this was for all brothers and sisters; it reminded me of the way my daughter protects and cares for her younger brother. #sometimes
On a recent family bike ride, a sizable insect landed in my hair. Rather than panic, I asked my son to carefully remove whatever it was. It turned out to be a big beautiful praying mantis — not a common sight in our area. We observed it in an aquarium for a few days, then set it free.
Earlier this summer, we discovered a trail just 10 minutes from home that runs for miles alongside a creek. We almost always cross paths with a doe and twin fawns on the drive out to our new favorite trail, and part way along the hike my son often asks to stop and ‘listen to nature’ together. The kids and dog love to splash in the creek, and try to spot young trout flitting in and out of the shadows. It’s a far cry from popcorn and candy out at the movies, which we’ve missed these last several months, but we’re learning new things about each other on these family hikes, and treasuring the gift of God’s creation just a stone's throw from home.
Joshua 22:5 says, “Love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” Just like a walk in the woods, following Jesus does a body, mind, soul, and heart good!
Here are 5 ways to practice walking with the Lord:
Begin your day with prayer. Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier to spend a few quiet minutes in prayer before you rise for the day. This will set a positive tone for the day, and gives you a chance to invite God into your day from the moment you wake.
Put gratitude on the record. Open a fresh document on your computer, or keep a notebook handy around the house, to record things you are grateful for. Whether it’s a cool breeze outside, food in the refrigerator, or a hug from someone you love — jotting down the things we’re grateful for reminds us we serve a Good Good Father.
Do unto others. If you feel unsettled, frustrated, or distant from the Lord, look outside yourself. Sometimes we become so wrapped up in personal troubles, we struggle under the weight of our own thoughts. If you feel this way, it’s time for a new perspective. Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter. Check in on an elderly neighbor, or a single mom, to see how you can help. Call your pastor to find out what unmet needs your church may have.
Be still. Most of us have lengthy to-do lists, and it can be exhausting keeping all those balls in the air. Sometimes, we fill up our days so we don’t have to think too hard, or dig too deep into relationships with other people, or even the Lord. Schedule 30 minutes this week to simply be still. No devices, no appointments, nothing on your schedule but quiet time. Pray, or simply close your eyes and ponder. It’s okay to be quiet, and sometimes those quiet moments are when we draw nearest to God.
Get outside. Maybe you aren’t hitting the gym these days, or taking brisk walks around the mall like you used to. Right now is a great time to get outside! Visit a local park you’ve never been to. Invite a friend to play tennis. Search online for hiking or biking trails in your area. Rent a boat and paddle around a lake for a few hours. Some activities and events look different right now, but God’s creation is open for business, and He wants you to enjoy the splendor of His work all around you.