In past readings of Genesis 4-7, I usually read all about Cain killing Abel, then skimmed over the “begats” in chapter 5 and zoomed right into the meat of the story, when God saw the wickedness of the world and decided to wipe out all that had breath…except for Noah and his family. But today my brain got stuck on chapter 5.
Did Adam really live 930 years? Was he really 130 years old when he had Seth? In those early days of humanity, is it possible that God allowed the earth’s atmosphere and environment to nurture and enrich people so much that they lived almost a 1000 years each?
Turns out the word we translate years is shaneh, which could mean years in the way that we measure them. But it also means a period of time. The fact that the text is so specific about the number of years these men lived must be significant somehow. Buried in this list of sons who begat sons is only one name of a person who lived in close fellowship with God…Enoch.
Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.
The verb tense used for walk in “walking with God,” halak, in the original text (according to Strong’s) is the imperfect tense, and its meaning is to actually traverse and walk around.
All this makes me wonder if God made himself visible in those early days, as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden.
Can you imagine the holiness of such a walk? Where on earth would I look if I were to take such a walk? Would I be tongue-tied in His presence? Would I need to shield my eyes from His glory? Or perhaps such a walk would be exceedingly peaceful, and I would feel like a little girl again, walking hand in hand with her daddy. Totally trusting, totally loving.
Out of ten men mentioned in that history of families, only one walked with God. If someone a thousand years from now wrote a history of my family, I hope my legacy will be more like Enoch’s than like Cain’s.
How, then, does a person walk with God in real life?
For me, walking with God is an intentional journey. It is deliberate, and it means choosing God’s way over my own way of doing things. Last week when my husband drove me to the doctor, I saw a woman standing at the crosswalk waiting to cross the street. Her eyes were distracted, and she appeared to be in a rush. All of a sudden I really noticed her. Maybe it was because I was a passenger instead of the driver, but I SAW her, and immediately I prayed for her. I didn’t even know what to pray for — I just knew deep down in my spirit that she needed prayer. So I prayed even though “my way” would have been to look past her and obsess over the coming doctor’s appointment. Actually, that part of my walk with God was really more of Him dragging me by the elbow than by my own deliberation. It came from outside of myself. That’s the only way I know how to describe it. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge, and I obeyed without thinking.
I don’t always follow those nudgings. Later that same day, I carried my electronic book into a restaurant with me. As I was walking into the door, I looked at my husband and wondered out loud why in the world I was bringing it. I had one of those “feelings” that I should not take it in. And, yes, I did forget it! Fortunately, someone turned it in to the manager, and I was able to get it back the following day. But had I simply obeyed that inner warning, which was for my good, I wouldn’t have lost it in the first place.
And then there are circumstances where I don’t feel any guidance at all. I read the Bible and pray and still find silence. Perhaps the answers to my questions lie within the silence, and once I still my soul and listen, I will know what the Lord wants from me. Or perhaps, as I suspect is the case with me, I’m hanging on to the chains that were cut long ago.
One such silence is regarding an upcoming vacation. My husband is taking our daughter to Italy this spring, and he wants me to go. The last time he did an international trip with her, I chose to stay home. Anxiety about airplanes, travel, food, and a hundred other things made my choice easy. But I do see that my choice was MY way and not necessarily God’s way. God gave me my family. He gave me a husband and a daughter who enjoy traveling. Does that mean he wants me to go with them? Me? I’d prefer to get my cultural awareness from books and museums state-side!
At this point, I can’t see myself going to Italy. It might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but to me a plane ride is one giant panic attack. The can’t-breathe-can’t move-can’t do anything except read to take my mind off the fact that I might get airsick-kind of panic attack. The crushing chest pain panic attack. My husband told me he has a friend who takes a prescription medication to help him on long flights. What he is forgetting is that the doctor had to give me (all 90 pounds of me) a double dose of anxiety relieving medication when I had the endoscopy a couple years ago because one dose didn’t cut it. And then I was out of it for the whole rest of the day. That isn’t really what he needs: taking care of essentially TWO children on an overseas trip!
And then what about when we get there? I have trouble drinking the water when I go to another city in the US, much less to another country! I could stock an entire suitcase full of water and granola bars, I guess, but what kind of vacation would that be? Sure, it would be amazing to watch my daughter’s eyes light up at the sights, sounds, and smells of Italy. It would be amazing to follow up this year’s study of the ancients with a tour through Rome. But knowing myself as I am today, that trip would not be amazing for me. I am riddled with anxiety just thinking about it; I am afraid I would drag everyone around me down or would force the airline to call for an ambulance once we got there (seriously, unless God sends a big miracle, I’d probably give myself a heart attack.)
Honestly, I feel a little resentment (Lord, please help me rid myself of this!) towards my husband for planning this trip knowing that I am the way I am. But the rational side of me knows that he is doing me a favor in the long run. If I weren’t for him refusing to enable me, I still would not take elevators. I do not jest! Those who knew me back in college know that I was deathly afraid of elevators. I’d rather walk twenty flights than endure an elevator ride. Then I met my man, and he took me to see a friend of his in downtown Houston. Now, I thought he’d have the friend come down to meet us in the lobby.
Nope. He was going up to the 28th floor, with or without me. At that time, I chose to go with him rather than stay by myself in the unfamiliar lobby in a not-s0-safe part of town. In the same way, he’s going to take our daughter to amazing places…with or without me. God gave me the perfect man — one who can love me without validating my fears. One who coaxed me into taking plane trips after I had sworn off them forever. One who helps me be more courageous than I ever thought possible.
One day the Lord WILL speak to me and will tell me to go with him on one of these trips. When that happens, I will. In the meantime, I am pleased that our girl is now learning to speak Italian! And I am grateful that the Lord is giving her the chance to explore the world with her dad. On her last trip, she missed me. A lot. I know she’ll miss me this time, too. Maybe I’ll ask her to write me a journal about all the things she sees that she wants to share with me. That way, I’ll get to see them through her eyes.
Did you feel the tears that fell as I wrote those words? Sigh. I want to be someone I am not. Yes, I am a child of God. Yes, I am delivered of these fears. Yes, I trust Him. But not enough???
One day God is going to deliver me from anxiety so that I will have a desire to travel beyond the borders of the USA with my family. For now, I’m walking with him right here at home. What a comfort it is to know that when my family does travel such a long way from home, He will be walking with them at the same time He walks with me.