A matter of perspective

This past weekend I made a monumental decision…I decided to CHANGE my normal morning running route.  I know, I know…a Lutheran CHANGING something…wild, I know, but I needed to spice things up a bit. 

We have a trail system that lines the Des Moines River in Jackson which is really pretty to walk, run or bike on, but even that was not enough to prevent me from deviating from my normal course.  So…I left the trail and hit the road.  As I was running I came upon Bluff Ave. in Jackson.  This street is not very long (about a block and a half), but it does have a hill.  I have driven it many times and never really thought much about it…until I arrived at the base of the hill.  As I looked UP the street I thought to myself, "Who tampered with this street and made the hill steeper?"  My run up that hill was interesting.  I made it, but I was puffing pretty hard by the time I got to the top.  Of course no one tampered with the street, but that hill sure looked bigger outside the confines of my car.

This morning I decided to alter my route once again, not because the Bluff Ave. hill scared me, but because a friend of mine challenged me to run along Springfield Parkway.  Dan said he runs this street and the long gradual hill is quite a workout.  My first thought was, "What hill? (I need to tell you here that I have lived in Jackson for over three years so one would think I would know this town pretty well by now…a town of 3,500 people).  As I thought I realized that there was a little incline to that street but no big deal.

<Insert chuckle or laughter here>

As I left the trail and turned onto Springfield Parkway this morning I was once again blown away.  "Who tampered with THIS street?"  Springfield Parkway is quite a bit longer (just over 1/4 mile) than Bluff Ave but not as steep, but the hill still look monstrous because of how long it was.  I made it to the top, but once again I was puffing a lot of air.

After my experiences with Bluff Ave and Springfield Parkway I realized something.  For the first time I was looking at those two streets from a difference perspective.  In my car I hardly noticed the hills because my car is doing all the work.  My car doesn’t even down shift to tackle those hills.  But outside my car, those hills looked like mountains (O.K….I may be exaggerating…sightly…but they WERE big).

I then started reflecting:  This is a lot like our relationship with God.  When we turn things over to God, life seems more bearable, but when we try to handle things on our own, little problems look like mountains that are far beyond our capabilities.  It’s really a matter of perspective.  God seems to make big problems (or mountains) manageable.  God doesn’t take them away, but is our source of strength.  And when we can’t do it anymore, God is the one carrying us.  I think that is why I like the poem "Footprints" so well.  When the person walking on the beach could only see one set of foot prints in the sand, during the most difficult times in his life, it was then that God carried him.

So God showed me something today.  Even though I can run Springfield Parkway and Bluff Ave. without keeling over dead, I would not want to do that day in and day out.  I am glad God is my God.  I am glad that I don’t have to walk this life alone.  I am glad that I will always have someone who cares and understands me.  God knows my strengths and weaknesses.  God knows when I can handle things (with His gentle nudgings and encouragements of course) and Gods knows when I can’t do it.  And when I can’t do it, it is then that God carries me UP that hill.

It’s a matter of perspective:  With God or without God.  It’s really a no-brainer…isn’t it?


4 thoughts on “A matter of perspective

  1. I enjoyed reading about your adventures in running and where it led you. God has claimed us for His own even when we cannot remember his constant presence. But how right you are about His strength for us. I too love the “Footprints” verse.

  2. My internship supervisor and I were just talking today about the propensity for pastors to reflect on just about anything. Thanks for affirming our conversation. Great illustration for a sermon some day.

  3. I especially enjoyed your descriptions of streets in Jackson! I don’t get down that way enough. The last time we just stopped in at my aunt and uncle’s house on the way to and from the Black Hills.

    but your comment, “with God or without God”… so true. thanks

  4. I am sure I will have many more adventures in running since I have committed myself to training for a 1/2 marathon next summer. Today I realized that I am not getting any younger — shin splints are plaguing me know. I guess I need to slow down a bit and recover.

    David — your supervisor is right, pastors do reflect on just about everything. During my senior year in seminary, the joke among a number of us was to try to come up with a Christmas sermon comparing Jesus to a armadillo (keep in mind that we were getting a little loopy toward the end and were ready to graduate).

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