I’m in it with you, step by step

This Advent season, we have the opportunity to reflect on this deep and incredible commitment God has made – becoming human. We’ll consider four areas where Christ’s coming creates a new paradigm for the way we live.

Our theme in week two is Ordinary. While Jesus’ coming was on one hand extraordinary (virgin birth, pronouncement from angels, etc.), he came in such an ordinary way (baby lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling cloths) and to ordinary people. The fact that God enters into our everyday lives changes us at every level and impacts how we live, learn, work, and play.

I’m in it with you, step by step

For the past two summers, I have gotten paid to walk with people. As a Sherpa with La Vida at Gordon College, lots of people may look at my job and see some grand expectation. Leading 10 incoming freshmen, who likely have never camped before, through the wilderness with heavy packs on their backs can sound ridiculous, challenging, and a bit overwhelming. But as I took a step back, I realized that what it really boils down to is walking with people.

We were asked in our summer jobs to join people on wilderness journeys. Yes, we were leading and guiding them, but the most important thing was being present with them. When I would get anxious about making it to camp in the dark and getting little sleep, I would have to remind myself: “just take a step, just walk.” When I was with students having anxiety attacks from feeling the weight of a canoe over their shoulders as we portaged, the thing I told them most often was: “I’m in it with you, step by step.” When I had a participant fall to heat stroke,

all I found myself able to say was, “I promise… that I am right here with you.” And when the sun was bright through the trees and the mosquitos seemed to disappear, singing worship songs as we hiked on a mountain, I thought to myself, “How amazing that I just get to walk with these people.”

I found myself loving this about my job. I couldn’t rush people, I couldn’t hustle from task to task, and I couldn’t elevate myself for accomplishing something that other people didn’t do. As I have reflected on my past two summers at La Vida,
I realized – this is what Jesus did. While he had great expectations set on him

to be “the Messiah, the Lord,” he didn’t live up to those expectations by entering grandly with chariots and trumpets. He was the Messiah by entering the incredibly ordinary. He was “a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” He lived for thirty years as an ordinary Jew, attending festivals and learning Torah. And when he began his ministry, the thing that Jesus did most often was walk with people.

In the documentary “Godspeed,” NT Wright explains that the average human pace of walking is three miles per hour. Jesus walked with people, three miles per hour, all over Israel. When Jesus came in swaddled clothes in a manger, his goal was to enter into the lives of people such that he could walk with them, know them, and be known by them. When I have walked miles with people, I have known them in ways I couldn’t imagine. When we walk with Jesus, we can know him and be known by him. In our everyday, ordinary lives, we can seek to go “Godspeed.”

Who is someone in your life that you are walking with and how might God enter into that journey, using your time together to help you both know him more?

Story by Electa Sutton

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