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.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Just Glimpse the Far Country
Lord, my body and emotions seem great weights to me this morning. But I choose to look beyond my frail limitations and the boundaries set in flesh and the world. My Lord has given me eyes to gaze on the far hills and sing to my Lord out of my aching heart. It is His glory that I see afar, He is my hope and all. These weights are lost amid His wonders and I find renewed strength to the day. Oh soul, rise up and take the trail, walk this Calvary road today with a heart set on heaven and home.
And then today I wrote:
On the trail today what wonders will abound? What treasures of my far country will I see? What dreams of God will arrest my heart and drive me to utter holy prayers and mount the watchtower of intercession. It begins by heading down the trail. Yes, running hard and true; the heart set to love God; heading down the trail pursuing God. Along the way I will discover things to catch the radiance of His name or the profound wonder of His glory.
This calling of the far country, this song on the wind as our hearts pick up the melodies of heaven – this is what calls us to the trails we run. Whether we set out today to follow a forest path and measure out our steps in hours and miles, or whether our steps involve a thousand small words and uncounted quiet smiles to encourage others on the way, these are most certainly trails traced out by the finger of God. As our trail gives challenge, let us give heart; as our way clouds with doubt and despair, may we choose to run on knowing these times and places and great adventures are to His purpose and glory. This divine root should cause each of us to rise up full to the day, to run on in spite of some passing doubt or despair. Such little things do pass away and we are left to gaze upon the unfailing provisions of God, the faithfulness of the Lord, the one who does not pass away but is forever Lord of All.
At times this does not come easy to me. Some days are teeming with a thousand distractions or come at me with an overwhelming sense of darkness and gloom. Some days I feel the ache of body or heart, and can’t seem to rise above the weight of it. I feel almost helpless. There were days like this during my few weeks in India. At such times I speak to myself, “Put the trail shoes on!” I say, “Read your Bible and journal!” I say, “Henry, run hard and true. That is all, just run!” And then I just do it. I set aside the indictments of the enemy, the doubts in mind and fury of heart; and I let the simple faithfulness of God take hold of my way. I run His trail along the road, through a forest, or in my heart. And so, recently, this was a passage through India.
Throughout the remaining trip I kept a fairly regular schedule of workouts in hotels resulting in one interrupted 5K (Fr 26 June) when the power failed in the machine and two completed 5K treadmill runs (Sa 27 June -32:58, Su 28 June -35:17) along with a compliment of other cross-training activities. The workouts provided a healthy recharge to the exhaustion of teaching and travel.
But my trail through India involved far more than dirt trails or treadmills. My trail was made of small exchanges and conversations, shared meals, and shared life stories, little words of hope spoken, light in dark places. I do not know the fullness of these things, and I cannot grasp the impact. It is too big for me. But in every place I was reminded of the ancient Christian, Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Gospel every day; if (absolutely) necessary, use words.” Yes, we preach the Gospel every day in our smiles and prayers and serving. And words from time-to-time are spoken, but this is not the essential thing. It is the trail of our hearts. For me, the trail through India was like a divine string of pearls, of heavenly encounters with other travelers along the way, ones He had chosen. And for me – well, I had the joy of running the trail, of being there as a light-bearer, of listening to the tales and burdens that others told, and whispering prayers along the way; a way – though difficult and hard – surely adorned with the glory of Christ and a fragrance of redemption. Whether our passage takes us through India or the neighborhood, we are tellers of the tale that God has given us, light-bearers in dark places, runners and trail-seekers and lovers with hearts fixed on heaven. Yes, I’ll hit the dirt trails again very soon, and I’m dizzy with the expectation. But the trails of the heart – these are the things of heaven. Oh, friend, come along. I hope to see you down the trail as we set our hearts to run hard and true. From this point, if we look with firm expectation, we can just glimpse the far country. Oh, friend, run on!