Sometime ago I read this quote: “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” It was attributed to French-Algerian philosopher, author, and journalist Albert Camus (1913-1960). It didn’t sound that much like Camus, especially after reading his novel, “The Stranger,” so I did a little research and found a similar line in a book written in 1910, three years before Camus was born. The portion of the novel where I found the saying goes like this:
The little girl wore a crimson hood and a brown cloak and the boy a crimson skull cap and a brown overcoat, and both wore crimson mittens…The chestnut braids of the girl falling heavily from under her hood met in a loop in the middle of her back and were tied there with a snip of ribbon that looked like a feather out of the wing of a blue jay. Her hips overreached the borders of the narrow path so that the boy was crowded out upon the rough ground as he struggled forward close beside her. She would not allow him to walk in front of her and he disdained to walk behind. “Then walk beside me or go back!” she said to him, laughing.1
What caught my attention was how this same thought applies to a believer and their relationship with the Holy Spirit. No, not in how these characters were dressed, but in how the girl told the little boy to either get alongside her so they could walk together or go back home. It is not by accident that the Holy Spirit is called by Jesus in the Scriptures, “our Comforter.”2 The word that Jesus uses means someone who is “summoned, called to one’s side, especially called to one’s aid.” In it’s widest sense, it refers to a helper, an aide, or an assistant.
So often in prayer, we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us. Perhaps, this is because we don’t want to make a mistake or make a wrong turn. But when Jesus talked about the Spirit’s coming He said: “That He may always be there with you.”3 And the apostle Paul talks about being “led by” the Spirit of God. But that does not automatically mean out in front, but alongside, walking hand-in-hand.4 And I dare say, we find nothing in the Scriptures that suggest that we are to go in front of the Holy Spirit to show the way.
So the thought crossed my mind: How many times do we want the Holy Spirit to be our guide, our companion, our source of encouragement, enlightenment, and motivator. But for some reason, it just doesn’t work the way we want it to. Perhaps, if we listen close enough, we can hear our Holy Comforter saying to us: “Don’t walk behind Me. Don’t walk in front of Me. Just walk beside Me and be my friend.” – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 The Doctor’s Christmas Eve by James Lane Allen, The McMillan Company, New York, 1910, pp. 3-4
2 See John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7
4 John 16:13