November 1, 2020

“Keep Walking”

"If God showed up, I would run with him, not walk."

Dixil Rodríguez

I cannot fathom how the invitation came about, but the outcome was quite profound: “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Gen. 5:24). There is room to wonder about everything in this brief but detailed story, for biblical cross references to learn of Enoch are few. What we do have is very precious: he reflected God’s love and character in his daily life: “For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God” (Heb. 11:5).

Enoch walked with God. I am intrigued by the movement in the passage: “then he was no more.” Someone noticed Enoch was gone. Maybe a friend set out to find him? Enoch’s presence was missed. Yet the only logical explication for his absence was that Enoch was transferred to heaven. What an amazing exposition of Enoch’s character!

How did Enoch receive the “great invitation”? It’s not difficult to imagine the relationship he had with God, because it is a relationship we Christians long for: to walk with God.

* * *

Every time I spend a day visiting patients in the rehabilitation center, I am reminded that God has understanding beyond our capacity of comprehension. Still, that knowledge does not prevent any of us from asking big “why” questions. Patients at the center learn how to live with mobility restrictions. It is a difficult process for heart and body. There is a profound wisdom in one specific emotion common among rehabilitation patients: patience. People move past the jagged edges of a difficult situation and land in the middle, the eye of patience. The price to pay for acquiring patience is often frustration. Our independence as a human now requires dependence on someone else. It takes time. I think on this while sitting at the uneven bench of wonderment, listening to profound questions by an 8-year-old, Anthony, waiting for his first visit with the physical therapist.

“If God showed up, I would run with Him, not walk.”

“Why do people call it ‘walking with God’?” He glances at his father, a few feet away from us. “Pastor Sid visited and prayed I would get better and ‘walk with God.’ But I think he’s confused. Because if God showed up, I would run with Him, not walk. He’d give me a brand-new leg and we would run!” Anthony makes a sound of what it would be like to run fast, moving his arms for emphasis. I smile. You are already aware of the necessity (and joy) of walking with God.

In the therapy room I sit with Anthony’s father as he watches a new reality unfold for his son. Anthony will grow through many prosthetics and must remain active. The father wipes away tears, and I realize he is reliving the car accident that brought Anthony here.

“We are trying to keep the faith; my wife and I are really trying.” God creates an opportunity for us to talk and walk, moving through struggles of human patience and trust. Reminding one another that we need to keep walking with God, regardless of the terrain.

* * *

Enoch’s life pleased God, and they walked together. A similar prayer is ours: A closer walk with God, with one another; and for Anthony, maybe a little running.

Dixil Rodríguez, a hospital chaplain, lives in southern California.