I walked the Eastbank Esplanade in Portland, Oregon this afternoon. I parked my vehicle along Water Avenue in the Central Eastside District and walked to the esplanade. Homeless people lined the street on my way to the walking path. Some laid on sleeping bags. Others muddled about their encampment. None paid any attention to me, or so it appeared. But I knew better.
It was a brisk, sunny late November afternoon. I began my walk at 3 pm. The Willamette river was calm, seemingly brought to stillness by the ubiquitous pollutants congealing its surface. Further out, ripples could be seen. From what, who knows?
Bikers, hikers, runners, lovers, and families shared the narrow pathway. While at times it was reasonably wide, the path narrowed quickly further north on the floating dock. I have a healthy respect for water. I frankly fear polluted water, especially in so powerful a river. Yet, I walked on.
The sun brought what warmth it could as it waned in its final hour before the early sunset. Bright, cheerful, a lingering kiss of tenderness before the onset of another winter. And I thought deeply about life, as is my custom on long walks.
I thought about life in general, but mainly my life in particular. Watching so many others pass me by, it seemed familiar, yet strange. I don’t know their stories, but I could venture general guesses. The young couple sitting along the water with eyes only for each other. The old couple walking briskly together, still obviously in love. The skateboarders and professional bicyclists, the joggers and serious runners, and even people like me.
What are their stories? What is mine? I could describe in detail the days of my past, or at least those details I feel comfortable sharing in such a public way. But what about the future? Where will my path lead? Alas, such a mystery.
I desire that I should grow into greater maturity in my discipleship. Not just knowledge, or character, or behavior, but a biblically right relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the essence of biblical spirituality. It is the soil in which godly knowledge, character and behavior plant their roots and blossom. It is seeded by God’s grace based on the person and work of Jesus Christ; it is fertilized by trust in Jesus, exhibited by honest repentance.
I don’t know where my path will lead. If the last several years are any indication, it will continue on an unpredictable, precipitous journey of faith in the margins among those long since forgotten by the powerful and elite. And through it all it will be characterized by a burning desire to grow closer and more obedient to the lover of my soul, Jesus Christ.