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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

To Will and to Work His Good Pleasure

I was in Bangalore to teach a three day class. Each day as the car took me to my assignment I passed the Assaye Ganj, a small urban lake very near my hotel with a walking path around much of it. I thought each day how pleasant it would be on the day after my classes to make multiple circuits around this lake and enjoy the lovely path and the beautiful flowers. I was truly looking forward to this. So with my class behind me I ventured from my room about 10:30am on Thursday, stopping at the front desk to confirm directions, and then out to the street and a short walk to the lake. As I arrived lakeside, I was greeted with an iron fence of perhaps 9 feet in height. Ok, I thought, I’ll follow this around and go in at the nearest entrance. And so I began. I found numerous padlocked gates, but no passage through to the path within. Eventually, I gave up on the notion of enjoying the path and its urban reveries, and determined to simply circuit the lake outside the gate until I had run 10K (6.2 miles). In 2:09 hours I made seven circuits of the lake covering 16.6K (10.3 miles) for a pace of 12.32 minutes per mile. This 10 mile run was a hard push for me, but I’m not really sure why. I suspect it was the air quality and warm sun. The temperature was about 24C (75F) with humidity in the low 80%. But the sun was hot. Also, my revised route placed me along streets running against on-coming traffic much of the time. If you have ever been to India, you can easily imagine that just running in traffic at all would be an exhausting experience – and it was. But I felt good when I completed my run. I had pushed out beyond obstacles and achieved what I needed to.

I went into yesterday’s run with an idea of where it would take me and the experiences I would have. Earlier in the week I carried vivid images of what my trail would look like. But circumstances prevented my dreams from seeing the light of reality. I was forced along a trail I had not planned for, one that I had not picked, and one that I did not much enjoy. But in the end, I began to see things differently. I saw the fabric of our lives and the breath of our days on earth. We don’t get to pick our trail. God does this with divine eyes and purpose. We may not altogether enjoy the trail our lives are winding along, but it is one given by the Lord in His infinite wisdom. As we pour ourselves into what He has planned, our lives yield fruit to His glory. As we move along His trails we get to be a part of His workings here. Oh, to do the things that He desires with a full and ready heart.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work
out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. [Phillipians 2:12-13]

As I ran along I saw much of Indian life alive all around me: workers digging along the road with simple tools, men and women carrying heavy burdens of crushed rock, kids fishing crabs from a nearby stream, a vendor with a cart of potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and ginger root, and others carrying colorful displays – all teeming with sound and life. There was the smellof garbage and sewage around the lake, as well. This was initially a distraction, but I set my focus on the intensity of the moment and quickly was able to overlook the hanging odors.

The trails before us each day frequently take us in directions we are not inclined to go. It is up to us to embrace these changes and difficulties, just as we would embrace any challenge encountered on our many physical runs. And behind these things is the wonder and majesty of God’s own hands, the Eternal Potter at His wheel, doing His good pleasure, building His work.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:10]

My run in Bangalore around the lake was like so many difficult things. But I found the Lord along that urban trail as I ran the edges of wild, on-coming traffic amid much noise and horns blowing. He gave me strength and energy and a will to finish. I pray that I would embrace these realities as I run the spiritual trails that often leave me perplexed and weary. Oh friend, it is good to be in the hands of the Divine Potter and to know that His will is finding expression in every nuance of our lives; every step. May we surrender these fleeting moments to His rich sovereignty with joyful confidence; and may we run ever hard and true. I’ll be looking for you down the trail. I might be singing.

1 comment:

Shovon Chakraborty said...

Hi, this lake's actually called Ulsoor Lake. Assaye Ganj is a small man made islet, which is named after the place where the British had defeated the Marathas in a battle.