Of late, I’ve been doing some running in Bryan Park, NorthSide Richmond. I don’t consider myself a runner, because I’m not—but I do have some experience. As a college student, I joined the cross country team with enthusiasm and high spirits! I was a “newb” as my kids say. Unsurprisingly, I was the worst runner on my team; I nearly always finished last.
Many years later, I found myself running again; not because I’ve joined another cross country team, but because my twelve year old son has joined his middle school’s cross country team. I have an ache to be relevant in his life beyond washing his XC laundry. Basically, I hope he thinks I’m a cool mom.
Since I had some running experience, my strengths and struggles came back to me in a rush as my face flushed and my feet found a rhythm. Hitting hills is my strength. Landing the flats after the hill and continuing on a long, flat surface is my weakness. Amusingly, I find my attitudes towards hills and flats are precisely mimicked in my personal life. For example, I take on the uphill challenges of life with a fierceness of determination; and conversely, I drag on to a monotone beat of my feet pacing the same, seemingly, inconsequential flat paths.
During a run, a hill in front of me curses at me like a drill sergeant, using questionable reverse psychology to light my fire. So, I gear up to the challenge with excitement and momentum knowing that I always dominate the incline. Side note: if you were to see this blip of a hill in Bryan Park, your eyebrows would raise in awkward embarrassment for me!
But after the exhilaration of the climb, the flat, mundane road ahead draws all of my body weight and thrill of triumph down to the tree trunks I now have for legs. At this point, the devil of self-pity mounts on one of my shoulders and the angel of self-will alights on the other. Who knows which will win out on a particular day? Typically, I put my nose to the grind and persevere to the goal.
This time, however, I was singing.
Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness
My God – that is who You are…
The song “Way Maker” was not just rolling around in my head; it was also inspiring a “soul accounting” of God’s faithfulness to me and my family. To us, He has indeed been the Way Maker; a Miracle Worker, a Promise Keeper, and the Light in the Darkness.
I kept singing, and I lifted my hands to the skies in surrender as I ran towards the hill. Fellow runners and walkers were around…eek! But it seemed natural to do so, as I had been practicing raising my hands on runs in my neighborhood. So, in public I ascended the little hill with arms raised, a song in my heart, and declarations of God in my thoughts. My mind, soul, and body were one, in a posture of praise to God as I crested the top of the hill.
I hit the flat. Did I mention the monotonous, mundane flat part? I wondered to myself what would happen if I just…kept on.
So, I did.
I continued running, with my arms raised up like sticks pointing to the sky.
And an interesting thing happened in the middle of the mundane. My eyes followed my fingers to gaze up at the old gigantic tree branches. This view replaced the hard pavement below. How had I never noticed these majestic, long-reaching, crossing hardwoods above my head? How had I missed them on runs past? I thought to myself, “How much more delightful and distracting to lift my eyes off the blacktop to the glories of the treetops!”
Naturally, I did not remain my whole run with arms raised as I am not Wonder Woman. If I were Wonder Woman, why would I be in Bryan Park at all? Surely, I’d have already reached stardom in my son’s eyes!
But as I reflect on my recent run in Bryan Park, I draw close to God; the God who is making all things new in my life, meeting me in surprising ways, making the old paths new ones, and surprising me with His delight. He ministered to me on my mundane, earthly run and reminded me that He is my “Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness.”
My God – that is who You are.