Life on the front porch

Faith, life, kids & bikes

Trail Running and Where to Look When You’re Moving

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My favorite part of being on staff retreat at Loon Lake BC is waking up at 5:30am (when it actually feels like 7:30) MB time so that I can stretch, pray and be on the trail by 7am – just as the sun is starting to give me a little light.

I describe the route around Loon Lake as a moderately challenging mountain trail.  My friend Al called it very rugged.  DSC_7931Some parts are clearly marked, other parts you’ve got to guess (but since I’m hemmed in between mountains and a lake, I can’t go too wrong). There are stumps, rocks, drop-offs, fallen logs, hills you need to scramble up (using feet and hands) and lots of soft, loamy soil.  It’s easy to see that there are wildlife around, but when I’m running I’m so loud (compared to deer and bears) that I didn’t see more than the occasional squirrel or chipmunk.  The forest is quite thick – I made sure that I started where there was less tree cover so that I wouldn’t trip – so thick in places that over the 45 minutes of my run, my GPS only recorded 35 minutes (10 minutes of the run were in places so thick with trees that the signal wasn’t getting through).
DSC_7932While I’ve not been running much this year, I found it easy to keep pace and continue running because the trail kept changing.  Uphills, downhills, leaping over wet spots, dodging trees and looking for the next trail marker motivated me to keep on moving.  I also found it necessary to consciously look down at the trail (to avoid stumbling or twisting my ankle) and to scan up (to see the scenery and the trail).  Failing to look down could find me crawling out of the bush or taking a nasty tumble.  Failing to look up and I could easy get off track and be forced to backtrack or bushwhack (besides, I was running the mountains around a beautiful lake covered in mist, I didn’t come here to look at my pretty green shoes).

Pretty, green and made to get dirty.

Pretty, green and made to get dirty.

The run (about 4k) took me about 45 minutes, and as I ran I reflected on how this run is like running with God.
The purpose of looking down is to keep from stumbling.  Jesus and the apostles warn us to know the tactics of our enemy who wants to trip us up.

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

It’s important to know the things that are designed specifically to bring us down – disunity, fighting, success, failure, religiosity, amusement, theft, self-sufficiency.  This is just a starting list; the point is, while I’m running with Jesus, it’s the stuff on the ground that can take me down.  Every fall slows me down and one misstep can mean I’m crawling for a long time.
Lord, help me keep proper attention on my footing.  Give me firm places to stand and lead me through temptations designed to make me stumble.  Keep me running on Your path.
The purpose of looking up is two-fold: I want to see every trail marker and keep my eyes on the landmarks (so I don’t get lost) & hey, I came to this trail to see the beauty of God’s creation.  If I kept my head down and never stumbled or risked twisting my ankle, I could still find myself a long way off the path.  Even with my head up, it’s hard to be sure I’m on the right path – but impossible with my head down.  Jesus invites us to follow Him!  The ancient celtic believers came to know Holy Spirit as the Wild Goose – so to many, a wild goose hunt seems random and unfruitful – the celtic believers in Jesus knew the Wild Goose to be an excellent trail guide.

Psalm 119:15  I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

Lord, lead me and guide me on your right path.  I don’t want to miss anything, because I know that you are beautiful and you lead me well.
How about you?  Do you find that you tend to look up more or to look down?  How do you adjust your focus?

Author: Robb Massey

I'm a husband, dad, pastor and a coach. I love following Jesus, riding my bike and having fun with my family. We live in wonderful Winnipeg, Manitoba in the prairie heartland of Canada

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