The other week I decided to go outside for a run. Looking back on it, it was the first run I had been on in over a year so I’d be lying if I called it a run. How about we call it an extreme jog. As I was on this extreme jog God spoke to me. In fact, He spoke to me from the moment I step on the trail until the moment I stepped off.
Christians belong in creation. What I mean by that is Christians must make being in the Lord’s creation a regularly part of their lives. There’s no clearer way that God speaks to us than when we are outside in His creation. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting God’s voice isn’t strong enough to penetrate through the walls of our homes, workplaces, or churches. We all have heard God speak to us in those places and in others. But if God is always speaking to us why don’t we always hear him? Distractions. There’s nothing wrong with being in the house God gave you, the house of worship God called you to belong to, or the workplace God provided to you but if we never get outside in His creation we won’t hear God as clearly and as often as we should because of distractions. I don’t need to list examples of distractions we all know the distractions we face in a given day which goes to show why being outside in creation is so important. Being outside in God’s creation is the farthest away we can get from distractions. Nature, in itself, is the best place for our minds to clear themselves of all distractions. It had been over a year since I went outside in His creation for a run. God had a lot to say.
My wife is the one who discovered the trail I ran, excuse me extremely jogged, that day. It’s a trail that circles a pond so it has great change of pace and scenery. I had been on a few walks with my wife and our girls and always stopped us at a certain point because I was afraid that if we kept going the path may not lead us back to where I felt we needed to be. Our car. As I reached this point of the trail God spoke. “Why do you always turn around at this point?” God said to me. “Do you not trust me to get to where you need to be?” Do you not trust that I know where you need to be?” He wasn’t talking about the trail. I saw that over the past few months I haven’t finished and followed through on certain things God has called me to do because I don’t know how they will turn out and don’t trust Him to get me to where I need to be. On this day, I continued past that point in the trail.
Not even a quarter mile past the point where I had always turned back I saw something. A snake. Now I may appear to be a manly man but it’s a facade. I’m terrified of snakes and instantly froze when I saw it. Already exhausted and in pain, due to my lack of conditioning, I considered turning back. “I’ve already made it past the point where I normally turn around what’s left for me?” I said to myself. Then God spoke again. “Why do you always turn around at the first sight of resistance?” I don’t think it was a coincidence I saw a snake. Satan is a serpent and he’s always trying to get us off the path towards what God has for us. And so many times I stopped going towards what God has for me because Satan put resistance in my path. After taking a second to compose myself I ran by the snake and continued on the path.
Just past where I saw the snake the path opened up. As i went from an enclosed part of the path to a more open I found myself next to a row of huge mansion like houses. These houses were nothing short of gorgeous and that’s when I heard God speak again. “These houses represent the blessings I had for you that you’ve missed out on because you didn’t continue down the paths I’ve placed you on.” These houses were literally mere feet from where I encountered the resistance of the snake. How many blessings were right on the the other side of resistance that instead of receiving I missed out on completely because I didn’t continue down the path?
Not long after that my exhaustion became to much and I had to start walking. As I walked along the path God spoke again. “Walking towards me is enough. It is not failure or weakness to walk down the paths that lead to where I am and where I’ve called you to be. I don’t expect or require you to always be running towards me. This life is hard. You will have trials. You will face resistance. But as long as you are progressing towards me that is enough.” Too may times I’ve let exhaustion, pain, or suffering keep me from progressing on the path towards God. And instead of walking towards Him I’ve just stopped moving conpletely.
I eventually turned around to walk the path back to my car. As I walked I came to within a quarter mile of the end of the path. I heard God speak one last time. “Finish strong,” is all he said. So I ran to the end of the path. I finished strong. Even with the doubt, fear, pain, and exhaustion I felt on the path I know without a doubt that I finished strong. Can we say the same about our lives? We know we will doubt. We know we will fear. We know we will experience pain and suffering. But do we know for a fact that we will finish strong? One way for us to be certain is to no matter what it circumstances make forward progress towards the Father. Whether it’s walking, running, or extremely jogging. Forward progress towards God is always enough. And as long as we are moving forwards towards Him we can be confident that we will finish our lives strong.