Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Walking God

Years ago, I had my first summer camp assignment as a work crew boss at Sharptop Cove. As a young staff person, I remember curiously watching our camp director. He seemed to always be walking around camp, slowly, with another person from the assigned team by his side. It was Wednesday of that first week when he invited me to set down my weed-eater and join him for a stroll. 

We walked around together for probably an hour. I remember how it made me feel so cared for that the head honcho wanted to spend time with me. And that he wasn't distracted. And that he wasn't in a hurry.

This summer I've had the privilege of taking some slow walks with a few of my high school friends. It's felt quite different from the typical contact work scenarios. No eating. No sports. No games. No entertainment. Just two guys walking together. Sometimes in a neighborhood. Sometimes in the woods.

A few months back, I met with a friend from church who is a seasoned psychologist. I wanted to ask his advice in regards to one of my high school friends who was stuck in paralyzing anxiety. The first thing out of his mouth was, "Y'all should take walks together." He began to tell me about something called "bilateral stimulation." He said that walking is actually a medically proven therapy for anxiety in how it stimulates the brain.

Scholars estimate that Jesus walked an average of 15-25 miles/day during his three years of ministry. It seems like Jesus' primary method of discipleship was walking with people. Maybe that's why the mid-week hikes at Young Life camps feels so powerful. Maybe it's not so much the view, as it is the journey.

Wonder what would happen if, instead of a milkshake run, you invited one of your high school friends to take a walk tonight? 

Make sure to leave the phones behind. To walk slowly. To listen to your heart beat. To pay attention to the birds. To gratefully enjoy one another's presence. And to remember the One who walks along with you.

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