And the day God breathed upon your still life, stirring into being the green leaf and the flower, bud upon the branch and light
upon your soul. Here you felt the earth’s air on your petals and your leaves, and squinted into sunlight, gazing high for heaven
until you felt the gardener’s hand gently turning soil and soul, and nurturing you, bud in radiant sun.
Cascading rain absorbed in warm earth turning, heaven of fragrance. What is that sound in the wind and dazzling light?
Oh, the sweet sound of your delight in God. Sometimes it is like the sound of running laughter.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Beijing and Movement on the Water
Shanghai had been interesting. I managed to get in another run to Central Park on Friday morning a few minutes after 5am. The air was crisp, the light was soft, and the streets were profoundly quiet as I headed out from my hotel. I laid down 7 miles in 1:16 hours of early morning wonder. It was a curious thing to see the park in growing light rather than diminishing. As the day awakened, the colors of the shrubs and flowers grew more intense, and the clarity of all things came sharply into focus. As the rising sun exposed more and more of my surroundings, I began to put the pieces together as in a puzzle. In fact, on my return by city streets to the hotel, I realized by the light of day that I had taken a wrong turn several evenings before. My way back to my hotel had required some additional navigation. The morning light was helping me to see things more clearly – I saw the error of my previous night’s run. It seems that my life is like that too. I look back at events of the past and realize in the radiance of His glory that I have made wrong turns that complicated things for me. And yet He loved me and guided me back to His way. For all of my life I have been drawn into the all consuming fire of His love and faithfulness.
On my arrival in Beijing on Saturday afternoon I hit the exercise room at my hotel for some serious cross-training on the elliptical and rowing machine. It was not until today (Tuesday) that I was able to go out for a run on the streets of Beijing. Again, as so many times before, I needed to push myself out of my room and out of the hotel, and just do it. “Just get out there; go for the run”, I told myself. I was already tired from my teaching that day, in fact, I was exhausted. But I knew I needed the simple discipline of running even if I did not think I did. I needed to push myself beyond my comfort and actively embrace the challenge set before me. And so I did. At 6:31pm I hit the streets with the temperature standing at 91.4F and crisscrossed the city streets near my hotel for 6.44 miles. In 1:11 hours I was back at the hotel drenched in sweat and feeling very blessed indeed. When I listen to Him and place myself in His care I am never disappointed.
This life we live pursuing this object of our love: the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in a field for which we will give away all that we own to possess only this one magnificent thing. He is an all consuming fire. He is our passion and breath. He is the Lord of Life and the Shepherd of our souls. He is Jesus Christ. We may travel to the ends of the earth and he remains the same.
He was with me as I ran on the streets of Beijing and thought about the people here. In small conversations over the last week and a half I have found myself speaking to a people that have – it seemed to me – little context for spiritual things. I felt they had very few categories for a discussion about faith or God. Maybe I was not hearing or have not been here long enough. But the closest expression they used to form categories for discussing religion or God or faith was to refer to these distinctions as “ways of believing”. That would be true. But this, it seemed, was the extent of their willingness to further probe and reflect on such monumental issues of the soul. How will they know that I love them? How will they know that He loves them?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. [2 Corinthians 4:7-12]
Sometimes I cannot see the movement on the water.
"...waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and stirred the water: whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had." [John 5:3-4]
I must cling to what Paul said, “…always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” Oh, may I run hard and true. May I run the trails He has laid before me, and may I be a light, a radiant light, in a dark place, on any trail. Dear friend, come run with me. Let’s run this race that is set before us with a passion that surpasses everything in this world.