“I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with your heads held high.” (Leviticus 26:13)
Last month, I took the opportunity to participate in the Genesis Project’s Freedom Walk. In this annual event, volunteers aim to raise awareness of (and money toward) the project’s fight against human trafficking by going through one of the motions endured regularly by many of the underage prostitutes it seeks to rescue from the streets. They walk the very route along the Pacific Highway these girls are made to walk by their pimps to find business, starting in Tacoma and ending at the project’s drop-in center in Seatac – a 16.8 mile span.
I was among the handful of people that completed the entire walk. This is over half a marathon and I had never attempted anything of this distance before. It took about six and a half hours for me to finish, and different muscle groups in my legs ached constantly for days afterward. I felt a great sense of accomplishment for grinding out the whole thing, but I wasn’t just out to prove that I could get through it. It was an incredible experience on many levels. We all wore shirts advertising the walk with a logo of breaking chains, and we got numerous inquiries of what we were about from many people who observed us along the way, providing a great chance to spread word about the project’s efforts. In addition to media coverage and speeches from elected officials at the beginning and end, other volunteers were stationed at numerous checkpoints during the walk to cheer us on, hand out water bottles, or help us cross busy intersections or slightly adjust our course.
I was alone, at my own pace, for most of the walk, and seldom talked whenever I was alongside others. As I walked, I was constantly praying for God to purify the streets, banish the sex trafficking and other crimes that are continually taking place, bring about revelation and change of heart to the perpetrators, and rescue the victims. I received a powerful, exhilarating awareness of His presence that gave my legs extra energy whenever I started to drag (which was more and more often with each additional mile). And I was struck by how directly the walk paralleled both Christ’s experience and our relationship with Him.
Jesus had to walk almost everywhere He went. He didn’t have good, comfortable walking shoes, and He had to endure fatigue and pain to make it all the way – He couldn’t count on one of His disciples driving by at some predetermined spot in the route and giving Him a ride for the last few miles. All four gospels record how He and His disciples stood out, wherever they went, in appearance and action. They passed through one place after another where activity that was unlawful or at least considered sinful by the majority of society was doubtless taking place, and made a point of being noticed. Countless bystanders who heard His message or observed or experienced one of His miracles were then drawn to follow Him. Even though He knew His road led to agony and death, He chose to keep walking, driven by His purpose to bring freedom from sin. Alone at the end, without anyone offering any relief, He finished the course, so we can now live in His resurrection.
Jesus walks with each of us in our lives, even when we are not sure where we are going. He looks out for our safety, and guides and changes our direction if needed. He provides us with the essentials we need, at the precise points and times we need them. And He is always there with us, rooting for us, inspiring us, and interceding for us. If we can just manage to make the choice to follow Him, amidst confusion, struggles, pain, or any trying circumstances, we can experience His freedom that will make it much easier to get through the treacherous roads in our lives.
I will look forward to completing the walk again next year. In the meantime, the experience will lift me whenever I have trouble taking steps in my life. It all comes down to seeking Jesus, and through Him feeling the presence of God firsthand once again.
Daniel can be reached via email here.