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.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

To Watch and Wait

Upon my return home from India, my daughter dangled an easy run in front of me. “I’m going for a run. You wanna come?” At first I hesitated, but then I thought of Birch Island Park, a gentle trail run and an opportunity to share with her this recent running pleasure. She was more than ready, so off we went. Into the woods we ran, covering 2.6 miles in 33 minutes; a tease of a run, just enjoying the glory of the woodland. I’d been thinking how fun it would be to share these trails with her, and now we were doing it. We skirted the retreat center and made our way to the woods beyond the tracks. Down the trail a bit, we climbed the hill to the highest point, breathed in a broad and distant perspective, ran along the western ridge dropping to the lowest point, climbed again and ducked into the bush along a secondary trail and ran along the eastern ridge overlooking the central trail far below – hidden at this time of year in heavy undergrowth, and made the rapid descent to the central trail. We got a rich taste of the special place that these trails can be to a ready heart; just enough to make us hungry for more and excite us to return another day. Sometimes the Lord paints a vivid picture in our hearts that we can carry with us like a photograph of someone we love with much passion; a picture vivid and rich enough to sustain us in bleaker times, to carry us through dark and lonely hours. Yes, I’m sure that we will be back. I have the picture in my heart, the color is overwhelming.

I left in a day or so for Peru, and any thoughts of future runs in Birch Island Park would have to wait. The memory I will keep is secure. I would find that many things would have to wait. On my arrival into Lima, Peru and my hotel, I went for a walk in the remaining afternoon light. The air was clear with a steady breeze, and the Pacific Ocean lay broad and magnificent beneath the afternoon sun, waves crashing in the distance. I was standing atop a plaza that overlooked a beach and cliffs and the rhythm of the surf. The view was stunning beyond my words. I was inspired with the seeing, but I was tired from my trip and decided not to run that day. I was there to teach for three days beginning the next morning and wanted to start out fresh.

I went down to breakfast the first morning and sat looking out the windows at the continuing view of God’s extravagance – the vast Pacific, the wild sky above the surf as it pounded, as it has pounded for all time, in steady wave on wave of praise and glory to its maker. I was looking out over the plaza below where I had been standing the previous afternoon. It was first light. And, look, runners! There were many, many runners going this way and that along the walk overlooking the ocean. The views would be breathtaking from that walkway, yet I would not have attempted a predawn run in an unknown city. So there were runners, but they were starting about the time I had to eat and run to my assignment. Oh well. Maybe tonight, I thought. But when I returned that night from work, night was falling fast. OK, no running along the ocean tonight either. I resigned myself to watching the other runners and waiting for another time and place. Sometimes we are left to wait. But I will keep Lima, Peru as it is for me – a beautiful picture in my heart. For the record, it was a magnificent city. If I have the opportunity to return, I’ll try and plan time for adventure and running, and I hear they have awesome trails too. Maybe my wife could come along and we won’t have to wait, but we will run and laugh and enjoy. And the picture in my heart will grow more intense and deep with time.

We need to hold onto things in our hearts to keep us true. And if you are running the trails with me, then you know this is important. We need to focus on our goal. For me, I’ve been writing lately about the far country, setting my eyes on the distant object of my life’s sojourn. I must set my heart on my Lord and His kingdom. After all of the trails and journeys, this is the object of my life. After all of the miles and struggles, this is the purpose and the overwhelming passion of my soul – to be with Jesus forever; to be found in Him. As Paul says,

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. [Phillipians 3:7-11]

As we run these trails together we share each others burdens and joys. For me, I share a few pictures today of beautiful places and stories of waiting. But these are small things in the context of eternity and the Kingdom of God. These are small things as we make our way along together today. Like so many of the trails we run, we face the challenges for the joy that is set before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:1-2]

Let’s run full-hearted with the eyes of our souls fixed on the joy that is set before us. Run on, my friend. Run hard and true. I will look for you down the trail.

1 comment:

Mel Arroz said...

Fun to be reminded of the unexpected pleasures & treasure the Lord, our God has for us!

Always good to come back to your blog and see what you have added.

Keep up it up!