This fall, during a morning walk, I experienced something new. The subdivision we moved to last March has several sections of cornfields waiting for new-home construction. These wide-open spaces separate groups of newer houses connected by sidewalks, which make a perfect walking path. While the weather allowed, my morning routine began with a long walk, listening to a podcast. As fall began to transition to winter, I discovered the inconvenience of the wind.
After four years of living in the mountains, I had forgotten how unprotected we can find ourselves in open spaces. Most days weren’t a problem, but our warmer-than-usual fall mornings occasionally included a wind that made my nose run, eyes water, and cheeks sting.
The frustrating part was that being in the wind was unavoidable. I had no way to walk around it, and nothing shielded me even partially from the brunt of its power.
A pattern in my relationship with God has taught me to pay attention to nature. God often uses my surroundings to draw me to him. I’ve learned to tune my ear to repeating patterns, phrases, and experiences. God’s mercy is never more evident than when he gives me a second chance to hear him draw me closer to him.
As I pondered the frustration the wind brought me, I discovered there is something more to learn from how it battered my skin and caused me to walk hunched over. Without fail, when the wind fiercely blew my body, a change of direction would bring immediate relief.
This phenomenon was so foreign to me that I had to look up an explanation just to describe why a simple 180-degree turn can make it seem as if the wind no longer blows, even though it had burned my face seconds earlier: “As they travel across the Earth, air masses and global winds do not move in straight lines. Similar to a person trying to walk straight across a spinning Merry-Go-Round, winds get deflected from a straight-line path as they blow across the rotating Earth.”
As surprised as I have been by the wind, God hasn’t once been surprised. He created the wind and the patterns it follows. More amazingly, in the same moment, the wind causing me frustration was serving multiple purposes, all designed by God for specific reasons. One of those reasons was to wake me to his power.
In a video about the song “Shadow Step” by Hillsong United (Wonder Album), which includes an interview with Joel Houston and his bandmates, Joel explains the cornerstone verse that inspired “Shadow Step” is Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (NIV).
Months of pondering the wind and all the symbolism that surrounds it didn’t reveal to me any specific inspiration other than the daily reminder that God is more powerful than the wind. With my ear already tuned to the word wind, I heard the song “Shadow Step” once, followed by playing it on repeat in my car.
Here is the chorus:
Light up the way of Your heart
Move me like You do the mountains
Move me like You do the wind
And I’ll chase Your voice through the dark
Fix my eyes on the unexpected
In the wonder of Your shadow step . . .
In his video interview, Joel Houston said “Shadow Step” reminds us that when we follow God, he paves the way, but our steps are our own. Our feet step into the shadow of his steps when we allow God to move us like he moves the wind. And because he is powerful enough to direct our path, we don’t need to fear where those steps may be leading.
In 2017 my one word was still. God called me into a season of expectantly waiting for him to move while I stayed still.
In 2018 my one word is ready. I found my one word with an ear tuned to the wind.
Here is more of “Step Shadow”:
And I won’t be afraid
In every way
You never fail
So have Your way here, God
And I’ll sing Your praise
Fix my heart to Yours
Ready for the unexpected
Ready for what You will do next
The word ready is, for me, a 180-degree turn from the word still. While both require a position of expectation followed by obedience, when I picture being ready, I imagine standing to anticipate a step of action made obediently, without fear, for what God will do next through me and with me.
Beth Walker is a football coach’s wife and mom of two energetic boys. She strives to encourage those around her to pursue their best lives in Jesus whether she is near the game field, in church, or at the local coffee shop. As a writer, Beth has been striving to find her voice through seeing Jesus in the ordinary and extraordinary of daily life. She blogs at Lessons from the Sidelines.
Photograph © Jamie Street, used with permission