As an “extreme intuitive introvert,” my “inner eyes” are often more focused than my outer ones. I could walk by a whole herd of purple elephants without noticing that they are lumbering along beside me. Passing down an unfamiliar road, it takes a deliberate and concentrated effort for me to observe enough about the houses and trees around me to find my way back home. But when I walk on the ice and snow, I am the picture of intense, outwardly-focused attention. I creep slowly forward, stopping often to survey the perilous ground in front of me. My eyes never leave the wet and dry patterns of snow on concrete, and my brow is furrowed in careful concentration. An observer might think that I was walking through a mine field, rather than a snow-covered parking lot.
The epitome of God’s command for us in the famous passage from Micah 6 is “to walk humbly with your God.” The adverb “humbly,” however, is merely a guess for a Hebrew word that appears only rarely in the Bible. It could also mean “carefully,” “prudently,” “in a well-measured way.” I couldn’t help but think of the alternative translation as I picked my carefully “measured” way through the snow the other day: “walk prudently with your God.” Suddenly, I pictured a life of hesitant, uncertain steps—a life in which fear of falling absorbed all of my attention. “That is certainly not what God wants for me,” I thought, although that is often the way I live. There is a difference between an attentive life and a stressed one. There is a difference between a creature living in communion with her Creator, remembering that she depends on that Creator with every step that she takes, and a creature who stands still for fear of falling.
Then I saw the dogs. There was my crazy beagle, slipping and straining on his leash, pulling me down the street thoughtlessly and carelessly, utterly enslaved to one random scent or another. But there was also the neighbor’s golden retriever. He didn’t wear a leash, yet he constantly turned back to look at his master after each short exploration. His walk was attentive, prudent, and well-measured. He didn’t seem to be paying any attention to the snow, either.