This week I went for a run. I’d been trying for a couple of weeks, but I either couldn’t make the time, or I couldn’t stop making excuses. I enjoy running, but it doesn’t take much for me to find a reason not to do it; it’s too cold or wet, or early, or late, too hot or too dark, I’m too tired. But I know how good it is for my body, for my physical & mental health, but also for my spiritual well-being too. I usually listen to worship music as I’m running, and I find that God sometimes speaks to me through the lyrics, but He often speaks through the things I see around me. This week was no different.
As I started out from the house, with Tracy & Isaac following on their bikes, I was running downhill, with the sun on my back. It was glorious (why don’t I do it more often?). Running by the road was simple & straightforward, then I arrived at Grove Wood. Although the ground was a bit soft with plenty of thick mud & puddles, there was always a dry path through. But it was far from straightforward, weaving left & right, in and out of trees and bushes with trip hazards to contend with along the way (sounds like a metaphor for life). The first leg of the run was pretty unremarkable. When I turned around, somehow everything changed.
The about face meant I was now running directly into the sun. Instead of the warmth on my back, it was now on my face and the light streaming into my eyes. Then I was struck by the change of perspective and I felt God challenge me, gently but unmistakably.
The last two weeks have been like a whirlwind. Last week I had prepared for a week of annual leave – a chance for some down time after a busy couple of months, some space to breath. Then the Government made announcements which meant we’d have to cancel our services & gatherings – and everything changed. In the short space of time which followed, we’ve been trying to catch up and to ensure we’re well placed for the challenges ahead. All of that to say – it’s been a busy time! During that time I feel like I’ve been running downhill, the pace almost getting away from me. And although I’ve not deliberately been running away from the Lord (instead relying on Him daily for energy and wisdom), I feel like I’ve had my back to Him. As if I could feel the warmth of His light on my back, but not my face.
And so as I turned around mid way through my run, I felt the warmth of the sun on my face again, literally and figuratively; physically & spiritually. Somehow facing the light made all the difference. I noticed was that I was quickly back on more level ground (in fact the same terrain I’d been on previously), having moved away from the bumps, mud & trip hazards. I was now running up-hill, but I barely noticed it, both distracted & sustained by the warmth of the sun; and I was running at a more sustainable pace too – no longer was I gathering speed as I moved down-hill, I was now in control of my pace as I continued toward the light. I changed my perspective and everything changed.
I’ve talked to a number of people who’ve been self-isolating or coping with the more recent lockdown restrictions and who have found the shift in perspective a really helpful one – creating more time to spend time with Jesus, to ensure we’re focussing on what’s important not just what’s urgent.
Whatever your situation, my prayer for you during this time is that you will deliberately turn and face the light; that you’ll spend more time reading God’s Word, in conversation with Him in prayer, and worshipping Him in any number of creative ways.
Can I encourage you to pause for 6 and a half minutes, and listen to this song, reflect on the words, and think about what you can put in place for the week ahead to ensure you’re facing the light each day. Be expectant – God will honour & bless your attention.