Who knew that a cinderblock wall could be so beautiful? Certainly not me! And I am sure that as you admire my view (don’t be too jealous) you are wondering what in the world I am talking about. Let me explain…
We have to start at the beginning. So, if this is to be an anatomy of a good run we have to answer the question what makes a good run. There are a couple of things that are absolutely essential for me. First are my trusty Nike Vomeros. I haven’t found another pair of shoes that make my feet happier and as long as my feet are happy I can go on and on and on. Second is my music. This is essential for putting me in the right frame of mind. Most days I have a stream of worship songs blasting directly into my ears, blocking out anything else. Finally, a place to run is needed and this is where the beauty comes in. I have run many miles both on the treadmill and outside. This spring, I couldn’t wait until the weather broke so that I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face while I was running. I also particularly remember one spectacular day last fall when the trees were ablaze with their fall colors and I couldn’t help but marvel at God’s creation. One of my favorite outdoor places to run is at a nearby resevoir. I am a sucker for water and it’s peaceful tranquility. I will also let you in on another secret about this place. There is a bakery nearby and sometimes early in the morning if the wind is blowing just right I can smell the bread baking. I don’t think there is anything that smells better than fresh baked bread. Talk about engaging all of my senses! Those are all great places to see God but, if I really need to hear from God I hit the basement treadmill and stare directly into my cinder-block wall. That is where the magic happens for me almost every single time. This is where I come when I really need to be drawn in, when I am searching for the stillness, when I am looking for not just a run, but a good run. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” It doesn’t always happen as soon as I take the first steps. Sometimes it is a fight to turn my mind form all of the things that need to be done, all of the things screaming for my attention. But I have found that as I keep pounding away, I am leaving behind all of the worries and to-dos and drawing near to God.
There is a passage in 1 Kings 19 where the Lord appears to Elijah and what I find I can relate in these verses is where God finally shows up. “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was a terrible earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11-12) There in that gentle whisper is where Elijah finally found the Lord.
We find our senses absolutely bombarded everyday with chaos and noise, incessant chatter. Finding the quiet, your quiet, where you can hear the whisper of God is essential if you want to draw near to him. For me, being surrounded by His “wind, earthquakes, and fire” are a wonderful place to worship Him but that’s not where we are able to commune. I am also not going to claim that every time I run it’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring, hands raised in worship kind of experience. There are days when it physically hurts, days when my mind refuses to shut down no matter how I try, days when I feel more frustrated having tried and failed. But, on the days when I can cut through all of the junk, and quiet my spirit, there is nothing like it!
Being still doesn’t always mean ceasing movement. I would encourage you to find your “cinder-block wall” and see how beautiful God can make it.