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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Struggles as a Place of Expectation

The trail goes on. There is a call of God on our lives. It is a song. When I sit quietly before Him I hear the ache and longing, I feel the pull of eternity and His whispers – songs beckoning me to Him, drawing me. Oh, to be like Him, loving Him more fully and clearly, knowing Him more perfectly. This is the song. Yet at times the weariness of the road wears on me, the sameness, the drone, the constant pressure in this fallen place on the redeemed heart. We take the long road. We run the trails.

Stirred from a fitful attempt to sleep by the flight attendants and the promise of something to eat, I cracked my eyes open a bit, dropped my tray table, and awaited the breakfast meal. We were coming into Buenos Aires after an almost 9 ½ hour leg from Atlanta. I had begun my journey from Minneapolis, and had been traveling since a 2pm takeoff the day before. I glanced over my left shoulder and caught an image of a radiant orange band of light indicating an approaching dawn. A short time later the sun was streaming into the window of our aircraft. It was Sunday morning over Argentina.

My previous entry to this blog was written at the end of January. It is now the end of March. Almost two full months have passed with many trails and adventures, and little time to chronicle the wonder along the way. It is time to reflect and time to share some of the texture of these passing days. There was a modest run of 5.53 miles near Austin, Texas, a few runs near my home in Minnesota in various directions and distances, 10.13, 4.25, and 15 miles. A few treadmill workouts in upstate New York, and a couple of runs in Buenos Aires of 6.25 and 10.5 miles with temperatures in the mid-80Fs and humidity standing at 87% in a near dead calm. These last runs a week ago in Argentina pushed me to new levels of endurance as I purposely layered them with intense elliptical, interval workouts to challenge myself. When I arrived at the hotel yesterday, I cleaned up, had a real breakfast, slept for two hours, and went for an 8 mile run in the same park as two weeks ago – Ecologica Reserva along the Rio de la Plata. The temperature was 79F, 79% humidity – again, a dead calm - perfect for an endurance workout. This run was a real study in determination and endurance. I began the run physically flat-lined, nearly exhausted from my travels, but set myself to run at least 6 miles. As it turned out, I was reluctant to stop at 6, so I just kept plodding along through the heat and discomfort. It was good for me.

As we cling to Him through struggles there is a deepening in our hearts, a growing trust and anticipation of His glory. I love this place of expectation. The difficulties seem to fade to the background as we focus on His loving purposes through the hardship. The trails seem to offer me a place to train for life’s deeper struggles. And – as with the running – I find a growing trust and anticipation of His glory through the hard things.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
Asaph [Psalm 73:23-25]

The trails continue for me, and I run them as I can. I find a feast, a richness of life along these winding ways. But I hear His song. Yes, the way grows weary and the road is long. But this is a trail that I have not charted. Another much wiser than I laid this route before me before time began. And so I run. I run with my whole heart. I train along these trails for the struggles yet unseen. I find the wonders with every turn and savor the glory He has scattered in abundance all around me. Sometimes the song comes on the wind or in the melody of birds. Sometimes the laughter of children lifts my soul to heaven. And so I run. Will you come along? Will you set your course to run? There is a call on the wind. Do you hear it? Let us run hard and true. Let us not be set back by hardship and struggle, but push on and savor these trails laid out before us.