Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that I’ve been running to improve my fitness level. The city I live in has two sides divided by a river and coulees or, if you’re not familiar with that term, ravines. I live a few blocks from the trails on top of the coulees, a pleasant place to exercise with a beautiful view of the river valley. Yesterday, I awoke at 5 am to get my run in, because I had to be somewhere to volunteer at 6:45. I know, an ungodly hour, but I work in healthcare. A 5 am start to the day isn’t unusual for me. What was unusual about this particular run is it was in the dark. I still opted to go out on top of the coulees, because running on trails is gentler on the body than smacking the pavement, but I didn’t consider how challenging it would be to run without being able to see.
When we walk or run, we look around, but we also look at where we’re going, and where we’re placing our feet. We instinctively protect ourselves when we meet obstacles or hazards in our way. Walking on a smooth sidewalk, we may only encounter the odd crack or lift. Walking on a more natural footpath, one that hasn’t been as dictated by humans, can mean encountering anything from fine dust, to dirt, to hard clay, tufts of grass, maybe some loose shale, bulging tree roots, scattered rocks of varied sizes, crevices due to erosion, and, on top of the coulees here, numerous, random, foot-sized, gopher holes. Whereas a sidewalk is often flat, especially if you’re walking in a neighborhood, a footpath that follows the surface of the land can have dips and curves. It was a strange sensation to run blind, with only the feeling of my feet to guide me. The dips were especially disconcerting, as I expected to touch grounder sooner than I did and it made me feel unstable. I was straining to make out those possibly perilous, gopher holes.
The thought came to me, while I ran, that this is life. Uncertain. Sometimes exhilarating. Sometimes scary. We enter in blind every day. None of us knows what will befall us, no matter how hard we work at controlling things, there are just too many variables we can’t wrangle—the weather, the traffic, the behaviour of family, friends, coworkers, and strangers, the technological glitches, the snags in our carefully laid out plans. Life happens without our permission and often all we can do is react.
I’ve had a good life thus far. I’ve known love, joy, and peace, and minimal heartache. I do think about how I’ll cope, if tragedy swoops in horrible, unannounced, and unwanted, as I’ve seen it do for others. I knew a man whose entire family died within a year, and then he died, shortly thereafter, probably of a broken heart. I wonder if I’ll crumble, lose my mind in the harsh wake of grief, become useless. I might fall into a gopher hole and stay there, take the easy way out.
My faith in Jesus gives me hope that no matter what happens to me, I’m never alone, I’m loved, I have a set purpose, and I’ll be given the resources to meet any overwhelming beauty, any dazzling surprize, any flurry of confusion, any gut-wrenching turmoil, any catastrophe, with grace, strength, and a sense of unbelievable peace. Knowing Jesus is with me, to the end, he says, enables me to look forward, into the cavernous uncertainty of life, not with fear or anxiety or cowardice, but with joy, because what he promises, what is waiting for me, is not uncertain, but sure and sure to be amazing. I stake my life on it. I cling to his promise. I stand on his truth. I’m not running blind ever. I’m walking in the light of his love into the glorious kingdom he’s prepared for those who laud him as Saviour and Lord.
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