"Walk with me," I said to M, our female dog. My two dogs and I were in our backyard, exploring the path we knew so well. B, the male, was already by my side and I wanted M to join us. It was a chilly winter afternoon and there was still snow on the ground. I noticed M's deep paw prints in the snow. And it was then that I thought about someone else who might say those very words to me, Someone that I used to walk with if only in spirit.
And the romantic in me, coupled with my vivid imagination, could see in my mind's eye deep footprints in the snow made by Him. And I imagined that He was walking with me, encouraging me to walk with Him, knowing the uncertainty in my heart. "Walk with me..." He would say to me, an invitation to join Him.
A few years ago, I watched a television movie about His life. During the John the Baptist scene when He went up to His cousin, John the Baptist, to be baptised by him, I asked aloud - several times - I asked Him: "You did exist, didn't you?" I asked Him as I cried. And I cried as I asked Him. Was I questioning my faith then? Did I not believe that He truly existed, that He still exists?
I believe that this entire homepage is a testimony to His presence in my life. I do not know how to explain it nor do I want to. I just know it. I've also known for some time that He gave me the gift of writing. It is a gift but it's nothing to boast about. For that is not what He's about nor what the gift is about. I may not have used it as much as I should have - for I could have greatly improved on it - but I believe that He planted the first seeds of This Child's Journey. I believe that very much for I wouldn't have been able to come this far if not for Him.
An uncle that I used to feel very close to -- who has since passed away -- once sent me a diary for my seventeenth birthday. The number seventeen seems to pop up very often in these pages as well as my memories. He used to live with us until he moved out when I was in my early teens. He was someone who always remembered my birthday and as my seventeenth birthday drew closer, I wondered if I would hear from him. One afternoon, a small package arrived for me in the mail. It was a diary and I remember feeling very touched. And my uncle had written these words behind the bookmark (the front of it had the picture of a sailboat on the sea as well as the words, Write on your hearts that every day is the best day of the year) which accompanied it:
Though I've not seen you of late, but I've heard many wonderful things about you.
With your coming of age, I hope this diary will register some of the beautiful memories of your expressions of love.
To this day, I don't know what were the "many wonderful things" that he had heard about me. Perhaps he was just being kind. But I treasured those words, nonetheless. He knew I loved to write.
Throughout my life, I know that He has not only inspired me, but also guided me, where my writing is concerned. I may not trust in Him nor myself completely but I believe He is there, gently encouraging me. It is easier to be encouraged by someone of flesh and bone. And that is why I always remember my uncle, I suppose. The words, trust, believe, seek (and you will find), seem to show up more often than I care to admit.
I received the following note during one of the vocation encounter weekends that I attended during my early twenties. It is titled, Surrender Comes Hard, and as I read it all those years ago, I knew what it meant.
It's no use being capable if what you achieve is not what I had planned for you. It's no use having a beautiful voice if you sing the wrong song. It's no use writing this, if you don't let my thoughts guide the pen.
There is no limit to what I can achieve through you, if you surrender your pride and let me use you in my way. Set aside your daydreams and spend your time aligning your mind to mine, seeking my forgiveness for your willfulness, being open to my guidance.
You will feel like a locust shell - all form and no substance - but as the wind can blow through a locust shell, so the wind of my Spirit can blow through your empty shell, can lift it and set it down in a new place, can make it fruitful beyond your dreams.
Surrender comes hard, but I ask nothing less. Do not let fear of loss prevent you. I will reward you a hundredfold. When your substance has been surrendered, your form becomes filled with my Spirit. You will be tasting the new wine of my Kingdom. I want this for you. Do not be afraid. I am incapable of acting without love, and your surrender will bring you into my love."
And I still know what those words mean. No doubt I still am afraid and do not trust enough. And perhaps it's all in my imagination but I still think He's always there, full of patience and love for me - Me! - as He gently invites me to walk with Him. It is difficult to explain it. But no explanation is necessary. No explanation will be sufficient. I think I've known it all along.