I heard that quote while I was in the middle of a training run. That day, I was running a road course. It was my first attempt at running 10 miles. My head was tilted downward looking at my steps and focusing on my stride. The above quote came from one of the running coaches who had run up beside me. He had noticed that I was looking down a lot. I had run some trail races with this coach and he knew that my running while looking down was because of my time on the trials. That is why I heard his sage advice.
Trail running is different than running on the road. A runner must be looking down frequently on the trials, because a runner must be looking out for his footing on the trail. The trail possesses a lot of obstacles, ruts, tree roots and mud puddles. These are things that can slow a runner down and/or significantly injure a runner. When a runner runs on pavement, a runner need not worry as much about footing because of the smooth and flat nature of road surfaces. That allows a runner to be able to look up more often than one would on the trails.
The coach reminded me of this fact during this long run. Looking up gives you better posture to aid in breathing and your stride. He also wanted me to take in the scenery. We were running along country roads during sunrise. The sky was lite up with golden rays cascading through tree limbs reminding me of how great God's creation is. Taking in such scenery helps sustains/uplifts a runner's spirit. I was missing God's inspiration on my run. The coach saw this, and being a good teacher, reminded me to open myself up to this inspiration.
Looking up, did inspire me. It also reminded me of one of my favorite Pastor Mark sermons. Pastor Mark reminded us the value of looking up towards God. He preached that even when we don't feel that we are worthy of God's grace, it is always available to us. Our shame or fear should not get in the way of looking up to the heavens where our father resides. I remembered Pastor Mark concluding that when things are at the most difficult, looking up is a good way to face the challenges that lie ahead.
I was also reminded about the several analogies Paul has made, in the Bible, about living a spiritual life and running races. Galatians and 2 Timothy are examples of these analogies. As I was working through my first attempt at ten miles, I meditated on these passages, the beauty of the morning, and the wise words in Pastor Mark's sermon. This actually quickened my pace and helped me complete my run.
I realize that sometimes the most difficult thing is to look up during a struggle. Our church is embarking on a transition that could be difficult. We, as a church, are going to be working hard to find a new pastor, whom God has ready for us. We will need to pull together to do the things our previous pastor was doing for us during this time of transition. This task may seem daunting. We may feel lost in the process.
We are following God's path for our church. He has a plan and direction for us. We just have to be willing to "run" on this path laid out by our father. He has promised that he will be with us and love us while on this path of transition. We just have to . . . . . .
"Look up, we are not on a trail today."