4.3 miles. That was the distance that I was supposed to run last Saturday. I’d been training for several races, and this particular day was a longer run. I woke up early and had a cup of black coffee as I sat in my chair to mentally prepare myself for the exercise. As I looked outside, I noticed that it was snowing. No big deal, I can run in the snow. And then I noticed that the wind had picked up, and the snow wasn’t exactly falling…but going sideways at this point. I began to talk myself right out of the training run. I had plenty of reasons not to, right? It’s too cold, too windy—and who runs in the snow anyway? But then I heard the “ding” of my phone. It was my friend saying, “No one ever said it was going to be easy. Lace up the shoes. I’ll see you in a half hour.” I started questioning why I had even agreed to such a ridiculous idea as training in the winter. Nevertheless, I got some cold weather gear on, and set out on a 4.3 mile adventure.
At about the 1.5 mile mark, it was as if time was standing still—except for the snow. To my left, there was a river that looked as smooth as glass. To my right, there was a forest; quiet. I looked up and felt the snow hit my nose and cheeks. Then, I heard God speak. He often does that through nature. He reminds me of His creativity, His gentleness, and His goodness—through the tall sturdy trees, the winding powerful rivers, and the magnificent sky. This morning, in particular, He whispered to me that in all things, I am to worship. I am to lay it before Him. I am to give thanks. I am to give up the tight grip I have on things that are out of my control, because He has it already. It is in those moments when I am reoriented to a clear path.
Isaiah 63:7-9 says,
“I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us – yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”
As I felt the weight of the stillness that had come over me, and heard God whisper, there was a sense of peace that washed over me. Was I still running in a snow storm? Yes. Was I cold? Yes. But God is love. He is mercy. And in that moment, He lifted me up because He knew I was in distress.
Life is a lot like that moment, I think. One of the first Christians by the name of Paul once mentioned running the race set before us. In the midst of the running, though, things get hard. The wind of diagnoses, a job loss, or pain takes our breath away. The bitter cold of death stings our hearts. The journey can often make us weary; and we stumble. I think that’s why I like running so much. It helps me put life into perspective. It also helps remind me who God is; and who I am in Him. He breathes life into our weary bones. He took the sting of death for us by sending Jesus as a living sacrifice for all of us. And in the midst of our stumbling, He holds out His hand and lifts us up; because God is, in all things, with us.