Saturday, March 12, 2016

Running Naked

"Be still and know that I am God."  I woke with these words on my mind.  I hurried out of bed to get a run in before the day began.  The early morning air was cold and fierce, like a lion. 

"Be still and know."  The words popped again in my mind.  The quote is an account of God announcing His sovereignty to His people centuries ago.  Was this God speaking to me?  Or, was my subconscious just replaying old quotes like TV jingles or old records; a deep memory mix tape?

"Beginning workout."  My phone announced the start of the run.  I affixed my ear buds and pressed play.  Nothing.  I tried podcasts and playlists.  Nothing.  My heart raced as panic peeked into my mind.  How would I get through my long run without any motivation or distraction?  I  pulled my ear buds from my ears and put them in my pocket.  I felt naked.

The morning was bright and brisk, the colors of creation sharp.  The rising sun sparked the frost on the field, all glimmering and amazing.  Stars strewn about. 

Maybe the "Be still" business and the audio not working were Divine intervention, God wanting me to be present for something of supernatural significance.  I ran on.

I heard a woodpecker in the distance.  I was envious.  The woodpecker rises with the sun, the rhythms of creation the only schedule he follows.  He does his work, the wood-pecking, as he is uniquely created to do.  There is no thought of trying to sing like a canary or do the business of another bird.  There's no comparing or regrets for the woodpecker.  Just living and being, content in the work of the day.  It seemed wonderfully simple and free.

Pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat.  I notice my pace.  I wondered what I'd been missing on these runs, all the music drowning out reality.  That's not always a bad thing, until it is.

A car drove by and I smelled cigarette smoke trailing from a window.  When I was a kid, I once smashed a pack of cigarettes that someone had left by a tree with a stick until the pack was destroyed.  I thought people who smoked were bad and that I was stamping out evil.  The world fit into neat categories back then.  It seemed so naïve now to think about my childhood judgment of the forgetful smoker.  Though masked in the complexities of adulthood, sadly, I still judge.  Often smashing the smokes of those I deem wrong - or not like me.

As I ran, my mind traveled down stressful paths of things to be done.  The sounds of reality snapped me back to the road I was running - God reminding me that He's the pace-setter.  I felt a peaceful stillness.  I thought of my friend diagnosed with cancer.  He's been forced still, yet he deeply knows that God is good all the time and that all the time God is good.  I want to share his heart, his faith, his hopeful outlook on these days.  I pray God heals him.

I notice my fists are clenched as I run.  I loosen them.  Minutes later their clenched again.   It's said clenched-fist running saps valuable energy you'll need during your race.  I live life like this sometimes, clenching my fists to hold things tightly, fearing scarcity, bearing down.  This illusory control drains valuable energy I desperately need other places.  I vow to hold life more loosely, to run through life openhanded, letting God set the pace.

The Message paraphrases Psalm 46:10 this way, "“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”  One glorious morning, I did.


  1. Great thoughts, Matt. I'm glad you shared them. Also, I'm glad you weren't actually running naked, because that would be a real problem. :)

    1. That's right, Kelly. That wouldn't have been good for anyone! Thanks for your comments!