“Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly…” (Gen. 33:14)
In one of her many inspiring writings, the missionary, Amy Carmichael advised her workers to “walk softly with the Lord.” This provides a very helpful image for me as someone who sometimes steps too assuredly on unsure paths. It is too easy for me to speak my mind before it has reached a rational conclusion!
Walking softly suggests other things. In the case of the verse cited in Genesis, it was Jacob acknowledging that he was forced to lead his family and livestock behind Esau, because he would not be able to keep up with him. In other words, he was conceding a weakness. For most of us, this is very hard to do. In the past, Jacob could always find a way to come out ahead, but since his wrestling match with the Angel (Gen.32:24-31), all that was changed. He was now like others among us who have been subdued by God, content simply to finish our course (2 Tim.4:7). Not win the race, only “win Christ” (Philip.3:8). “I will not let me go, except thou bless me” (Gen.32:26)
By walking softly, Jacob put the welfare of others above his own ambitions. He could look powerful to Esau, or he could be a blessing to his family; but he couldn’t do both. And, as believers, we can come across as luminaries in the Kingdom of God or glowing testimonies in our personal circle of influence; but seldom do you see both. There are exceptions to this, of course; but my point is that voices that are the loudest can seem distorted up close.
Walk softly with God in order to hear His voice and make your own more audible to those around you. After all, in the walk of faith, the only One we have to worry about keeping up with…is God.
“How many can say of us, ‘As soon as I heard your steps, I felt better’”? ~ Oswald Chambers