The Trail Run
The Race of Faith
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
I had a revelation immediately upon finishing a trail run at the local park. The whole thing was staged… by God! The Lord loves showing and teaching His children lessons and revealing Himself to them through private expression through their spirit, experiences and their heart. This same thing happened to me when I least expected it. Let me start first with the setting and brief backstory.
I had woken up around 10am. I felt weird, confused, anxious and definitely not thinking according to the Spirit (a topic to discuss another time). I was in my thoughts and had a big sheet of laziness draped over me. One thing I do remember though is thinking “go on a hike this morning.” And so I did. I knew it would be good to get out, and I needed cardio exercise anyways. On the way there, I had a deep sense of God wanting to reveal something to me, despite my uncertainties, odd feelings and questions. I simply trusted the idea and that it was of God.
Now, this brings us to the meat of this story. The trail (technically two long, connected trails) takes an hour to an hour and a half on average by walking, forty to sixty minutes if running. My rough estimation is that it’s around a 3.25 mile-long loop. This is what He showed me. There were five parts: the beginning climb, the bench stop, the peak run, the downward run, and the final stretch.
The Beginning Climb
This was all about me getting my thoughts together, hydrating and starting the trail. I knew I would be on this trail for a reason, but there was a lot of mental blockage in the way. My mind wasn’t quite in the right place but I had enough willingness to start it by walking the trail. This section (and the rest until the Final Stretch) was uneven, muddy, inclined and had tons of jagged rocks and surfaces. This forced me to get my mind and body aligned with the reality: I started the trail and I must finish it. Just as we begin our walk of faith, there is an end to it, that is, the salvation of our souls and arrival into the Kingdom of God. This is something we must come to terms with.
The Bench Stop
After I had hopped onto the extension trail, the rocks got worse and worse. I had to make many clever jumps and plant my feet in the right places or else I would twist an ankle, pull a tendon (bad for those with fallen arches) or slip and land on my forearms and be bruised. Thanks to God, I knew the correct pace to move at and planted my feet in the right places. Past all of this, I knew there was a bench further along on the trail and that my mind still wasn’t in the right place; I wanted to make sure I knew what was ahead before I continued on. So, I stopped on the bench, acknowledged the view and closed my eyes for ten minutes just listening. Many times in our walk of faith with Christ, we will feel as though we must stop and recalibrate ourselves because of the trials and previous mishaps we’ve had. What I realized was that I thought I needed the bench to make everything clear in my mind, but I was wrong. Although, it wasn’t bad resting and seeing what was around me. After that time, I got up and continued on. Whichever stops we make on our race of faith, we must know to continue and that the less stops you make, the less likely you are to stop the race itself. Momentum, motivation and endurance are key to the journey of the race.
The Peak Run
I continued toward the peak milestone of the trail (which also happen to be the peak of the mountain the trail sat on). Now, my mind was beginning to clear up and doubts were starting to be erased with each step onward. Until the Bench Stop, I had only walking the trail so far, but now I increased my pace to a jog. I had more momentum and motivation. Now began the testing of my endurance. The trail had become smoother as I went on through the forest, still having many twists, turns, root structures and so on. There were equally as many obstacles that could have hindered me then as before, except that these were much smaller and less obvious. In the race of faith and as you grow throughout the journey and surpass large obstacles that keep your mind from believing God’s plans and promises for you, there will be yet another array of obstacles that seem insignificant. But, one must pay attention to these snare and obstacles just as much so that they don’t make you stumble.
Now, I was really close to the top. The incline was massive and the path was very rocky and muddy. I had to be careful and keep going. I did my best to maintain the same pace, but I became fatigued a couple of times and had to walk. There is nothing wrong with slowing down to catch a breath as long as you have the right motivation to pick back up again. Momentum and motivation are key here because many Christians lose momentum on their journeys of faith to the point of backsliding or lukewarmness. Avoid this at all costs. Breath, hydrate and continue on.
The Downward Run
I made it! The peak could not have felt better. What motivation it gave me to continue on down at the top. This is a time of celebration and remembrance, but I shortly after continued on down. By this time, the path was gravel and smoother, so I just had to watch out for sliding rocks for the most part. When there is success, it is great to celebrate but also know that it isn’t finished yet; my test of true endurance is yet to come. The incline made me jog down quickly, but I learned to keep a certain pace and not get ahead of myself. I had to conserve energy and not wear my heart out too much since there was more to come. If we get too excited and driven by emotions after a success, we will lose track of our pace and try surpassing the pace God has set for us. Just as it is vital to stay in step with God’s will and purpose in your life, it is of equal importance to not exceed it either.
As I ran down to the bottom of the mountain, I reached the point where the path smoothed out and became paved instead of rocky. I no longer had to pay so much attention to my feet but to what was ahead of me. My pace was established, and my vision was clear. Now, the true test of endurance was about to come.
The Final Stretch
My pace was established, my momentum was consistent, and my motivation was strong. It didn’t look like anything could stop me! Soon after, I passed the campground area where the view opened up for a bit. It beheld God’s glory. This only lasted for two minutes until the view enclosed itself once again and the trail now became windy and went up and down constantly. I was getting tired. I began slowing down after I passed the river overlook.
This is a crucial part in the journey of faith we take with the Lord. Paul talked about it when he said “I have run the race, and I have fought the good fight.” (_____) Now, I was here. I had endured and overcome many mental, spiritual and physical obstacles that were attempting to hinder my race, but I had made it to the Final Stretch. I realized that my own strength alone would not have sufficed to carry me to the end of the trail, so I only did what I knew best: I leaned into the strength of my Savior.
I was less than a mile away from the end, but my legs were fatigued and the trail continued to wind up and down every fifty meters or so. My motivation dwindled then my momentum did the same. I wanted to give up and stop, but something in me told me to continue on. I knew the fight was my mind by now. I used every ounce of strength I had to climb the last hill towards the end of the trail. I knew it was worth the staining, so I didn’t let up. Finally, at last, I made it! It was amazing to have made it there, and I thanked my God for it.
II Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV
“6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. “