I had quite an adventure this morning. In the midst of dreaming, around 4:30 this morning (something about killing a mountain lion with my bare hands to heroically save my damsel wife), I was ambushed by a set of workout clothes and a heart monitor. I don't know when or how they attacked, but I woke up halfway to the staircase fully dressed to run. Don't be fooled. The real victim here is the Under Armor that had to stretch its poor self over my out-of-shape gut. Poor workout clothes. If only they had a real athlete to wear them to the finest competitions instead of seeing the same three miles every morning.
As I paused at the top of the stairs trying to will myself to wake up (I advise against falling down a flight as a warm-up regimen), I glanced out the window and almost jumped for joy. Snow. A late, March snow. A freak storm kind of snow that you know is going to melt, but for the moment: SNOW! It was only a couple, beautiful inches, but there it was telling me to go back to bed and sleep in this morning. I almost did.
As I strapped microspikes onto my running shoes, donned my headlamp, and trudged off up the road, I thought, "This is ridiculous. I'm going to get run over. I should turn around and go home." And then I saw deer tracks in the fresh snow. Two sets. And I knew that something sacred was happening; this time was not to be thrown away lightly. For reasons other than the weather, this was not going to be an ordinary run. I ambled on.
It wasn't my best run time, for obvious reasons, but a few things dawned on me as I tried to find a "snow-pace" that worked. I was amazed at how well my feet knew my route. I couldn't see anything on the side of the road save the occasional mail box and the ditch (into which I was prepared to jump should a car get a little squirrelly). But, somehow, my feet knew every dip, pothole, and man-hole cover. I found myself being carried in and out of the road to avoid obstacles I knew were there but could not see for the white blanket trying to deceive me. It was a strange sensation to trust my feet and not my eyes. In one sense, it was frightening to be so blind. Yet, it was also exhilarating to experience the unknown; to have faith enough to run headlong into...
I am a fool. If only I had this kind of faith every day. The kind of faith that sees the white world everywhere and is undaunted. The kind of faith that doesn't know what the next step is going to be like, but is patiently ready and persistently fruitful. We face a perpetual series of unknowns. Everywhere life is covered in a blanket of fresh worries and newly fallen cares. Trouble and disaster are buried amongst them. Sin could crop up anywhere at anytime. Somehow we're supposed to navigate through it all, to persist to the end. Not by trusting in what we can perceive, for we don't perceive clearly. But rather confiding in that which His Spirit tells us.
Sometimes it can feel lonely and difficult. Sometimes we slip a little. Sometimes snow builds up in your microspikes and you have to dig it out so you can get traction again. Sometimes it gets cold. But that is all just worries of the world. Would we really trade the experience so we can be comfortable in our own beds, spiritually lifeless? Or would we step out?
One of the best things I experienced this morning was something that caught me completely off guard. I never knew there could be so much joy found in another pair of tracks in the snow. I don't know if both sets belonged to the same person. I'm inclined to think they weren't. One set was on the upper portion of my run and one on the lower, and they didn't seem to be connected in any way other than the fact that someone else had been out here. Before five in the morning. Not out to get a newspaper, but to go for a walk or run. I felt a kindred sense of solidarity to these people whom I've never met. I never would have known their presence but for the snow. I thought I was the only idiot crazy enough to run in the pitch-black pre-dawn.
Sometimes, if we are out running the race, we get to see evidence of other runners. We may not get to meet them or share fellowship with them. But they are there all the same. Their tracks are evident. They may not be moving the same way we are moving. They may not have the same calling or destination. But we are not alone. There are other pilgrims struggling through the snow trying to reach that ultimate goal. They, too, must trust in strength found not in themselves. They, too, are being guided through the dangers and pitfalls. Their work is not our work, but its fruitfulness is encouraging to other travelers.
May the Lord always guide your steps amongst the tempests and blizzards of life. May His Spirit show you the small joys of stepping out in faith. May He help you to form habits that will protect you against the unknown. May He show you the occasional footprint of those who went before you to encourage you. And may you never be daunted by the cares and worries of this world, knowing that the Father is behind everything, steering you home one step at a time. We need only walk with God.
© 2012 Seth Alan Jackson
© 2012 Seth Alan Jackson