“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
My lower back has caused me problems for well over ten years. When I was younger it would just flare up every now and then and remind me of my mortality. I know this is cliché, but ever since I turned forty I’ve had a constant ache that won’t go away. Somedays are better than others but every morning I’m immediately reminded of my weakness.
Saturday I worked all day in the yard clearing part of our property and cleaning out the flower beds in the front of the house. I spent about eight or nine hours bending over swinging a machete, shoveling old mulch and pulling out plants and weeds. I also loaded 47 bags of mulch (30 pounds each) in and out of the car and into the flower beds. Not surprisingly, I’ve been in pretty severe pain since Sunday. Just about any movement hurts and I almost pass out when I try to bend over and put on my socks.
Now my movements are very deliberate. If I drop something I don’t just bend over and pick it up, I position myself properly, making sure there is something sturdy around in case I need to pull myself back up. Then I bend at the knees, focusing on keeping my back straight the entire way down and back up. If I’m sitting at my desk and I need something just out of arms reach, I don’t just stretch and reach. I make sure to roll the chair closer so I can keep my back straight and avoid leaning forward. When walking up or down stairs my focus is on each step, being sure to keep my foot in the center to avoid slipping or jarring. Anytime I get in a hurry and fail to pay attention I have an instant reminder in the form of sharp pain in my lower back that will take my breath away.
The letter to the Ephesians focuses a great deal on our “walk”. Chapter two verse two refers to our former walk, focused on sin according to the course of this world. In verse ten, Paul tells us that we are His workmanship, created for good works so that we can walk in them. In chapter four verse one, Paul implores us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling and goes on to describe the characteristics of that walk. In verse seventeen, we are told to no longer walk like the Gentiles, darkened, ignorant, callous and focused on sensuality, greed, and impurity. Chapter five verse two encourages us to walk in love just like Jesus and verse eight tells us to walk as children of Light. And sort of like a summary, verse fifteen tells us to be careful how we walk, making the most of our time, understanding the will of the Lord.
God has gone to great lengths to teach us how to walk. He has described what a life dedicated to Christ looks like and He has provided encouragement as we leave behind our life of sin and rebellion and start walking with Him. He has also, in His great wisdom, provided painful reminders when we take a wrong step, head down the wrong path, or try to revert back to walking with the world. The consequences of sin should provide those sharp and pointed reminders that we are not in line with the will of God.
Our job is to be careful, to be watchful, to be observant in our walk. Who do we surround ourselves with in this life and what kind of influence do they have on us? What do we fill our minds with and is it leading us closer to God or farther away? What are we pursuing? How do we spend our time? What are our priorities?
When we get up every morning and start our day, what deliberate steps do we take to ensure we are walking with God? Do we direct our paths or do we allow the world around us to push us along in whatever direction it happens to be heading at the moment? Are we living life at such a rapid pace that we fail to consider the consequences of the decisions we make and the path we are taking?
Walk with a purpose.