Many people love the old hymn Jerusalem with its poetic imagery and stirring music: ‘And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green.‘ It’s certainly a grand statement of nationalistic sentiment, but unfortunately it’s little more than that. Verse one asks in a roundabout way if Jesus came to England, and verse two declares the intention of building ‘Jerusalem’ here. Someone once said that the response to the first verse is ‘No!’ and to the second verse ‘Why?’
Although Jesus did not wander around England’s green and pleasant land, I do like the biblical idea that in life God walks alongside us; three chapters in to the whole Bible we have the wonderful image of God walking in the garden, looking for Adam and Eve. It is interesting how often the Bible uses the idea of walking with God as a picture of our Christian faith. In Genesis 5 we read that ‘Enoch walked with God’. The people of Israel were instructed to ‘walk in all the way that the Lord has commanded you’ and were to talk about God’s commandments when they were walking along the road (Deuteronomy 5:33 and 6:7). When Jesus sent out his disciples two by two, they took to the roads without food or money, relying solely on God’s provision.
It is not easy to walk consistently with God. It is demanding, and challenging, and can be uncomfortable. Maybe you, like me, find that sometimes we are doing very well in our Christian lives, and our relationship with the Lord is warm and deep, yet at other times we feel cold and distant. One moment we are running along well, flying even, the next we’re plodding or maybe we’ve run out of steam altogether. Walking with God takes determination, and we all need the encouragement of one another in the daily discipline of consistently following the Lord Jesus. Bible study and praying together are essential if we are to keep on walking. And if we’re finding it tough right now, Isaiah 40 reminds us that God ‘gives strength to the weary . . . those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint‘.
Yes, of course, Jesus never was in ‘England’s pleasant pastures seen‘, but he’s here right now on the streets of Faversham as he walks with us and talks with us along life’s narrow way.
Let’s make sure we walk the land with hearts on fire for God!