The momma duck struts across the lawn and into a pond. Right behind her follow eight tiny ducklings. Plunk, plunk, plunk. Into the water they follow, and lo, they swim in a little row behind her. What makes this scene so charming is its rarity. So few other animals do it. Humans don’t.
Early on, in the very first book in the Bible, we read:
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain…. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”
Walking with God is just as rare in our generation. Religion isn’t rare. Spirituality is popular these days. But walking with God is uncommon. Yet this walking is precisely what differentiates real Christians from their plastic toy-store counterparts.
Walking along the stony beach of Galilee, Jesus sees some fishermen. “Follow me,” he says, “follow me.” They leave the fishing nets with their astonished father and follow.
He sees a tax collector, sitting in his office. “Follow me,” he says, and Matthew pushes back his chair, hangs a “closed” sign in the window, and follows.
Walking with God can’t wait until a commercial break or a convenient point in our lives. It is now.
“I’d like to follow you,” says one, “but I can’t until I bury my aged father.”
“Let the ‘dead’ bury their dead,” replies Jesus, “but as for you — you follow me.”
Walking with God is marked by its immediacy as well as its costliness.
“What must I do to have eternal life?” asks a finely dressed young man.
“Give away your wealth to the poor,” says Jesus, “and follow me.”
The man’s pace slows. He drops out of the journey. Jesus asks too much of his walkers.
“Whoever would follow me,” Jesus says, “must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow.”
God’s heart breaks at the sight of men and women lost in time, on their own paths spiraling down into the pits of compromise and self-absorption and degradation. He’s created them for fellowship with the Most High, and all they can do is offer explanations and excuses for their deaf ears and numbed feet and self-willed souls. God is grieved.
And in his heartbreak he turns to someone who “walks” with him — Noah, a man who is circumspect in the way he lives, in spite of the moral cesspool around him. God finds pleasure in this walker who listens when He speaks, who turns when God’s direction changes, who obeys when he hears a new word. God is pleased.
“I want you to build an ark, Noah. I want you to build it longer than a soccer field and as high as a four-story house.”
“It’ll take a lot of wood, Lord.”
“I know. That’s why I’ve prospered you all these years and given you wealth. This is what you are to do with it.”
“It’ll take lots of workers, Lord.”
“You and your sons and your servants can do it.”
“It’ll take lots of time, Lord.”
“I have given you long life for just this purpose.”
“Then we’ll do it, Lord. Yes, we’ll do it.”
On our walk with God, he asks of us some big things, too. Things undreamed of. Things impossible. Things uncomfortable. Things which stretch us to the limit. Some drop out at this point. Some don’t continue the journey.
“I’ll follow you wherever you go,” says one.
“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head,” Jesus replies.
Jesus utters a hard saying and his many of his band of walkers desert wholesale.
“Will you also go away?” he asks his closest followers. “Will you leave, as well?”
He asks this question of you, too. Will you continue to follow? Will you remain faithful to walk with God? Will you be one of those rare individuals who gladdens the heart of God? Who brings pleasure to a heartbroken Father? I want to be one of those, and I think you do, too. There’s no higher honor we can aspire to than for people to say about us what is recorded about Noah of old: “He walked with God.”