Thursday, March 27, 2014

Get on the Path

It amazes me how God whispers gently in ways we need to understand but lovingly invites us to hear, understand and follow rather than shout, cram it down our souls and force us to be obedient. The latter is obviously not His way but with His rebellious children it would seem more effective sometimes.

WARNING: another running moment. Stop reading now if you don't want to be bored with the same running/life theme I tend to come back to. I wonder why it is my loving Heavenly Father chooses to speak peace to me on runs. Maybe it's that I'm listening, praying, speaking and craving His attention and I'm finally submitting myself to His will rather than allowing myself to be distracted by daily noises. Likely.
This morning on an early run, I was blessed with upper 50's, a slight breeze and a cool mist of a rain that lightly kissed my cheeks and forehead while I worked up a sweat. At first the tingly feeling was chilling, almost uncomfortable in just shorts and a light shirt, but as my heart rate increased and my body temp raised, the cooling sensation was a blessing. The peaceful feelings were certainly a welcome respite as I churned through my inner struggles and poured my heart out to the Lord. He's heard them all before. Nothing revelatory. Same 'ole stuff. I wonder if He just shakes His head, compassionately of course, and wonders what it will take for me to break my heart completely and give myself over to Him.

I always enjoy the point in a particular run where I've beaten the difficult portion of the journey which is usually uphill against wind and finally have the wind at my back going downhill towards the finish. My body is usually warm, my legs feel good and I can stretch out the pace a little, increase my stride and push.
Today's run followed the path that afforded me a similar situation though the wind was in my face, coming out of the south and bringing in warmer gulf air. It was refreshing and I was being caught away, reveling in the light sprinkles against my face, allowing my feet to just fly underneath me. In this moment, a whisper caught my attention. It wasn't audible but came as an impression. It was stern, immediate and a call to action. "Get on the path." I had been running in the street as at the 4 AM hour not many cars are on the road. Most see me and as I'm near the shoulder they just avoid me. A few close calls have left my heart racing but it's kind of thrilling too. This morning, the warning voice was sure and with out hesitation I jumped onto the grass and immediately got onto the "path."

An approaching car, headlight glaring in my eyes, was coming up the hill, road slick and hugging the shoulder as it rounded the corner in which I was running. As it approached, I wondered what would have happened had I been in the street during it's passing. Had the Lord spared me, spared the driver, spared our families and friends of potential heartache or was it something else.

Regrettably, like the observer and rebellious spirit that I am, I followed the route of the car and looked back as it crossed my path to see where it was in relation to my former running path. It was close and how close I'm really not sure as the moment had shifted and what was could not be known. In that instant a second impression came and I was immediately caught. "Why did you look back? I already saved you. Stay on the path."

There are some obvious symbols in the experience for me. The path, which is Jesus Christ, is the only way back to Heavenly Father and to true and everlasting joy. No other way exists that will fulfill our eternal opportunity (not destiny as we are still required to choose the path). No matter how far off track we get, He constantly beckons us to get back on the path. The road I was traveling was wide, dark, slick, prone to error and accident and filled with potential danger. The path is safe, narrow, strait. I've always found the word "strait" to be interesting when describing the path as it allows for no other way except through it whereby the merchant, the traveler, the soldier may receive passage. That it is narrow means there is no turning about, no squeezing in distractions or imperfections. The path  of Jesus is perfect, leads to eternal life and is a guarantee of His eternal blessings.

The second lesson was that of turning back. When Lot was told to leave Sodom, the angels warned him to "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee . . . lest thou be consumed." Lot's wife couldn't stand not knowing. She turned back and was consumed, being turned into a pillar of salt. Isn't it enough for us to just know He saved us? Do we need to question what would have happened? Jesus Himself said that "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."  Sometimes we look back on what would have been, wondering about alternate paths, courses, lives, and our way is frustrated. He requires us to stay on the path that leads to life eternal.

The beauty of the lesson for me this morning is that He constantly calls. I was in danger, off the path, and He called me back. I listened, was saved from danger, heartache, frustration, complications and a life of sorrow. He spiritually calls and beckons in the same way. Whether I'm on the path or not, He is calling. "How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings,"  is what He continually does for us. He continues to call and the comfort and safety, protection for the buffetings of sin, peace and security is only found in Him.

How is He calling you? Are you listening? Share away. I love inspiring words and would love to hear your experiences.
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