Editor’s note: This is the thirteenth and final post in our newest series, reflecting on the Hillbilly Thomists’ recent, self-titled album. The series has run throughout the Easter season. Read the whole series here. This post concerns the song “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” which you can listen to here.
“Just a closer walk with Thee,
grant it, Jesus, is my plea.
Daily walking close to Thee,
let it be dear Lord, let it be…
I’ll be satisfied as long as I walk with thee.”
These words make a lovely prayer. Setting them to a soothing melody and accompanying them with guitar, fiddle, and a jazzy piano increases their appeal. It sounds as if we are asking Jesus to join him for a walk in the garden or a stroll along the seashore.
Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we might catch ourselves asking: do I really want to walk closely with Jesus? After all, he described the way he walks saying, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23). Do I want to follow him down his via crucis, his via dolorosa? Wouldn’t I rather walk in such a way as to avoid snares and toils and burdens? And how will I be satisfied if I join him in the walk of self-denial?
If Jesus were weak like the rest of us, these concerns would be justified. But we know by faith that Jesus is strong. He is God, the Mighty, the Immortal. He became man, sharing all things with us except sin. He bore our burdens and died our death. On the third day he rose from the dead. And he ascended to his Father and our Father, where he lives and reigns forever. From the bosom of the Father, the risen Lord Jesus remains with us. He enlivens us by sending the Holy Spirit and his graces.
These saving mysteries of Christ are not distant but very close to us. Jesus applied them to our lives by baptism, through which we set out on the Christian way. And this shows why we want to walk with him. First, because our sins are forgiven. As St. John puts it, “if we walk in the light, as [God] is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7). Even when we falter along the way, Jesus will be there to help us stand up and to guide us to our destination, to his kingdom’s shore. Second, because in receiving grace and following Christ, we become like him. Saint Paul writes, “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph 5:1). God’s Son, Jesus, who is Love and Light, strengthens us by his grace to walk in love and as children of light (Eph 5:2, 8-10). All of us who walk with him are made brothers and sisters, companions in the pilgrimage he already completed towards the Kingdom.
Finally, we are renewed by the gift of the Spirit to walk with Jesus. It is in the hope that comes from the Spirit that we can keep our end in sight, sing as we go, and be grateful for our journey. St. Paul recommends to us this perspective saying, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time… Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:15-18). The Spirit who dwells in our hearts takes us to Jesus and gives us the wisdom to walk like he walked. The Spirit inspires love and its songs in our hearts (Eph 5:18-20). He reassures us that all we need to do is to depend on Jesus, to stay close to him. And walking close to Jesus, empowered by the Spirit, we make our way toward the boundless shore of that Good which fulfills all our desires. “Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.”
Image: Titian, Christ Carrying the Cross