Some days ago, I was taking a praying walk** on the path that goes beside the Pool River from Sydenham (where until very recently I used to work). It’s a very attractive walk, despite being in crowded South London.
It had been raining and the river was fairly swollen and fast-flowing. A pair of Mallard ducks were swimming around in the river. You know the ones:
The male duck was being very attentive, making sure the female was OK, stopping when she stopped, moving on when she moved on, just checking out she was fine.
This started me thinking about Jesus and the Church, the Bride of Christ. Jesus is attentive, He’s always there, making sure that things are OK, making sure we don’t get swept away in the current, suggesting good places to go for feeding. Constantly watching out for us.
The second thing that occurred to me was about the female duck. From a distance, the female Mallard can appear just brown and nondescript. But if you get close, you can see that what might appear to be just generic brown is actually a myriad of different coloured feathers, all beautifully arranged. In fact the beauty of the female Mallad is quite breathtaking.
The Church can appear rather brown and uninteresting to us. Perhaps we’ve become jaded about the whole thing. But that’s not how Jesus feels. He’s looking at the Church, His Bride, and He sees beauty, breathtaking beauty. He doesn’t see a boring brown mush, but all the intricate and infinitely varied colours which fit together to make something truly amazing.
Church: Jesus loves us, as the whole Church (as well as individually), and He thinks we’re amazing and awesomely beautiful. So fluff out those feathers with pride, you’re the King’s Beloved, you are the Bride of Christ!
** So what’s a “praying walk”? it’s not prayer walking, which involves walking round an area and praying for the people of that area, plus the businesses, schools, police, shops, and so on. A praying walk is taking a walk and praying for whatever God wants you to pray for along the way: I usually write out a list before I start. I have found that it’s often much easier to pray outdoors than indoors, I get distracted less easily and because I have a defined route I keep going for the whole walk. Quiet streets, parks, beside streams or rivers all work well for me. I find that usually I can pray out loud quietly (shutting up when I pass another person!). Since I’ve been doing this I’ve been praying for longer, covering more ground in prayer and enjoying the whole thing much more. And I get some exercise too. Give it a go!