Sometimes, when I wake up in time, I like to go for an early-morning walk before work. I’d love to say ‘run’ but those dizzy heights of physical fitness still seem unattainable. The other morning, as I experienced the peace and solitude, it occurred to me that there were a lot of parallels with my journey through life with God.
Some of the time I just enjoy looking at and being in God’s creation – that ‘what is life if full of care; we have no time to stand and stare’ feeling. The signs of spring, the birdsong, the sounds of rippling water in the stream, the many shades of green... and, occasionally, the sun shining and light dappling through the trees..
But then I hit the mud. Deep, oozing mud, right across the path—slowing me down, leading me to tread very warily, turning my eyes down instead of ahead, in danger of losing my shoe! And how often do I find myself bogged down in life, slowed down by difficulties which can easily become all-consuming. Sometimes it’s because I’m being too selfish and preoccupied, sometimes because I’m getting sucked into other people’s problems. Whatever the reason, I know if I lose my focus on God, I lose my sense of direction.
And then there’s breathing, the air which sustains our being, which—in my brief attempts at jogging—becomes very laboured! I take for granted the oxygen which fills my lungs and enables me to live, and I also know that, day-to-day, I need to depend on the helping power of the Holy Spirit, breathing through me, to cope with all that life throws at me, giving me strength and help.
I always walk the same route, so I always know my starting point, the way, and my destination. In the same way, as I travel through life, I do have the confidence in God that I know where I am heading—though I’m all too aware that I travel down all sorts of dead-ends and wrong turnings on the way!
The dogs I encounter are a physical reminder of this; their owners keep heading in the right direction, but I see dogs doubling back, getting tangled in undergrowth, at times disobeying the owners’ calls as they’re distracted by competing attractions. But however much they deviate, they do end up back on track with their human guide.
There are usually some other people along the way, sometimes familiar faces, and that reminds me that my life journey is not a solitary one, that I do need the friendship, fellowship and encouragement of travelling companions, helping me to keep going.
In the book of Hebrews [NT] it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run” (walk?!) “with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...”
And that’s what I’m trying to do.