I run a lot lately. Partly because I have a puppy who needs the exercise. Partly because I have a body which also needs the exercise. But also partly because, as Preston Yancey puts it, it’s where I pray best lately.
I’m an extrovert to the core and the idea of blocking off and hour, sometimes two hours a day isn’t always appealing. But the silent interaction with God and Mr. Bear along the quiet trail that runs through Summerville is healing parts of me that I didn’t even know were broken.
It’s true what Elle Woods says: “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy. And happy people don’t kill their husbands.”
I don’t have a husband, but rest assured I won’t be killing anybody else either. Maybe it’s the endorphins, but the time alone in nature, beyond the fluorescent lights of my workplace: the cranes and deer and turtles and blooming tea olives, the little hints of God buzzing all around me, the ebb and flow of the seasons marching steadily by with each successive sunset, these have reminded me what life is. God’s hand is on each of the intricacies of this ecosystem, and surely it is on mine as well.
A fundamental shift has happened in my faith over the past year: a hopefulness has settled in.
I don’t want a faith that thinks each successive generation is a little closer to hell than the one before it. I don’t want faith that digs its heels in against change or legislation. And I don’t want faith that shuts out the world, but rather one that bridges it to Christ.
I want a faith that sees God’s redemption already taking place in creation and in humanity. Faith that cares about life now and not simply an afterlife. Faith that sees the image of God in each human rather than total depravity or something like that.
Hope has changed me.
Not in a rose-colored glasses, shut-out-reality sort of way–quite the opposite in fact. This running, this communing with God in the silently roaring wilderness has allowed me to confront the way things truly are.
Every day the rocks cry out the Gospel if only you’d quiet your heart to listen to them. Every day there is death and rebirth in the seeds carried by the wind and the soil they rest in. Every day you are sinning and being saved over again. And every day God chooses you and would have you choose Him. God is within and without, bringing purpose from the seemingly purposeless and in Him all things hold together.
This doom and gloom that settles on me from time to time, this fear of the macro: generations in danger, the health of humanity–it dies at the notice of God in the micro. Nothing is too big for Him because nothing is too small for Him.
That’s what I know right now. That’s what I’ve learned on the trail with Mr. Bear. Even now, within and without, He still conquers death and still injects life into dry bones. His mercies are new every morning and we can trust them.