There is something magical about being outside in the morning in the summer, when the early light is filtering through the leaves that have passed the pale, yellow-green of spring and are now the dark, rich colour of a summer forest. The birds talk more in the morning than they do at any other time of day. They talk more, and they talk louder, quarrelling, singing, jubilating in the experience of existing in a morning in the summer.
There’s a field I run past that’s flat and boggy, and often a moose will startle at my approach and take off running, his gangly legs flailing, his whole disproportioned body evoking a cross between the majestic awe of creation and a great cosmic joke. Sometimes I even see “my” owl perched on a fence post, watching me as I run past, its head swivelling a full 180 degrees to follow me down the road.
And then there’s the running. I never feel more alive, more grateful for the beautiful gift that is my body, as when I’m pounding down the hard-packed dirt road, the smell of dew and aspen and warm dirt in my nostrils, my feet hitting the road in perfect rhythm and my breath as steady as my footsteps. It is my meditation, my zen, my morning devotional. It affects my every day. It affects my confidence, how I feel physically, and how much patience I have for my kids, my husband, and my co-workers.
A beautiful, sublime purpose exists within our bodies and our spirits. When I run, my body is doing what it was built to do; when I pray, or read my Bible, or go to church—when I turn to God—my spirit is doing what it was built to do.
When I first started training again, after six years out of commission, it was hard. I kept injuring myself, so many times that I finally had to go back to a five-minute run per day. For weeks! It was painful, and hard, and some days, just plain boring. There were times I wondered if it was worth it. Sometimes I almost decided it wasn’t. But I had run before, and I knew that once I passed that mysterious threshold, running would once again go from a chore to a part of my life-force.
Being spiritual isn’t easy, either, especially when you’re just starting. Turning to God can be hard, and painful, and sometimes so, so monotonous. Other activities are much easier, and, at least in the short term, more enjoyable. But we keep trying, because perhaps we’ve had a glimpse of how rewarding a relationship with God can be. We’ll sludge and slog our way, step by painful step, until one day we’ll look up and we’re not dragging our feet any more; we’re soaring, and life is more beautiful than we can even comprehend.
We need that glimpse of Heaven first. Before going through the pain and discomfort of fully trusting God, we need to understand why. I write about the rewards of running because I hope others will challenge themselves physically, too. I write about God’s miracles because I want to share them with people who don’t know them or have forgotten. Maybe that’s why you write, too.
Have you experienced a glimpse of Heaven through the mud and sweat of life? God has given each of us a way to let others experience Heaven on Earth. So, if we write, let’s write! If we preach, let’s preach. Even if all we do is run, let’s run for His glory. Because nothing in the world could be more beautiful than being what God made us to be.