WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WALK WITH GOD?
BY SHELDON STOFF
I have two sons, Jesse and Joshua, who are now in their fifties. Prior to the conception of each of them, their mother and I prayed that “this child will walk with God.” After the birth of each, we again prayed that we could give him that which he came to us for. We also prayed that we would learn the lessons than he would provide for us.
Now, I am seventy-eight years old, and although I have used the expression “to walk with God” for all these years, I realize that I scarcely know what that means.
What does it mean to me “to walk with God?” Knowing that what we term “Sacred Scriptures” provide many, many examples, I have often relied upon their advisements. Three stand out so strongly in my mind. The first is Hillel’s injunction to “learn to love God and all of God’s creatures.” The second is Micah’s directions: “And what the Lord does require of thee: Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” The third is and shall ever be: “You shall love your Eternal God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your might.”
These examples are an adopted part of my consciousness. Now, I want my own understanding. At my age, it is not enough to have reached out to make these directives my own, as I have fully tried to do. For more than fifty years, I have sought to find answers through personal meditation. Having been taught, those long years ago, that meditation is an entrance into the world of spiritual understanding, this is a practice I have followed ever since. For answers to my deepest questions, it is an awesome step beyond the intellectual and the rational. What answers might I receive? What veils might be lifted? How might my understandings grow? I fully believe that each of us must pose our own questions and find our own answers.
I will share something of my own personal experience. After an unsettling start at meditating with the question “What does it mean to walk with God?” I suddenly “knew” that I was with Rabbi Isaac Luria, who, through his writings, had guided me in the past. Rabbi Luria of Sfad, Palestine, (1534-1572) had clarified for me much in Kabbalah, and he had always seemed “to be there for me.” During this particular meditation, he gave me one simple answer which spoke volumes. He said, “Always have your heart filled with love and have the strongest desire to bestow it upon all that you meet.”
While still in that meditative state of consciousness, I received many other thought gifts, and additional insights were still being showered upon me as I awakened in the morning. After all these years, as I walk among the autumnal dance of the leaves in my garden, I find that I recall many and much and I still ponder them as I still pray to know what it is to “walk with God.”
I am suddenly reminded of a film about Carl Jung, the image of him near the end of his life, and his response to a question about whether he believed in God. He make a soft fluttering sound with his lips and said, “Well I know…!”
So…Dear Reader, with your indulgent permission, in the coming days of this autumn and winter, I will attempt to write from time to time of those “thought gifts” and in so writing I will be re-membered with them, and thus, it is to be hoped, grow more in my own attempt to walk the walk.