Thursday, February 14, 2013
The streets and sidewalks in my town are in that after –the-snow ugly phase. Yards are mud, driveways are potholed, and some folks still have their deflated Christmas blow-ups shriveled up on the lawn. Everything has a feeling of decay about it. It’s as if the surrounds of my neighborhood are crying out, “Renew me!” I can relate.
I was all tangled up this morning in internal knots, the old enemies of discouragement, disappointment and worry each winding around the other until I was nearly suffocated. The grungy streets of my thinking, over thinking, had me bollixed. But for grace, I would be there this moment. Like David, that sturdy, wild, drama queen (or should I say king) of the Old Testament, I cried out to God in the cave of my discontent.
And took a long walk across the Hudson River.
It’s remarkable how putting one foot in front of the other can disengage a soul and sort it out at the same time. I’ve been reading a book by Gary Thomas called Every Body Matters, in which the author makes a case for the benefits of caring for the body in order to grow the soul strong. It’s been sheer obedience to God’s call for me to get this winter lazy body up and running again. Today’s long walk in the cold was a simple “yes” when I would have rather, believe it or not, ruminated over my problems in a sorry effort to fix the humanly unfixable. Instead, I grabbed the gray headband, the mismatched gloves and my ornery heart and walked out the front door.
What a difference an hour makes.
I walked fast, even ran once in a while, pounding out my lament not with words but with this temple. I listened. And the One who makes all things new reminded me again how my life belongs to Him, and all that I see around me is slated for renewal, and not just the transforming power of the coming spring but the ultimate reclamation of a new heaven and a new earth. Even more startling, the crummy within is headed for perfection! While I breathed hard in and out all that cold air, I saw the man walking into the deli and the trucks heading up the ramp to cross the bridge, and the town hall and the people filling their tanks with gas, and the couple getting off the bus with the baby. All of this, all with its dirty coating of sin and loss from the fall, He sees it all with an eye for the original beauty He created. I feel so small. I ask in the poverty of my own weakness, “How can I be part of your great big heart to show people your great big love so they don’t miss the beautiful in the ugly?” And He simply says without words: “Keep putting one foot in front of the other and I will show you.”
The Hudson River is magic to me. I live a fantasy as I cross back over, heading home. I think of Henry Hudson and the men on the Half Moon, eating wormy hard tack and stopping right about here in Albany because the river gets too shallow to go further on. The cars and trucks disappear, indeed the bridge itself ceases to be under my feet, and I am soaring over the banks of this mighty river of commerce, before the weight of hundreds of years of sin have cast their pall. I can see the downright gorgeous, past the factories and the steel bridge beams. Somewhere in my heart hope is renewed. My lungs fill with air mixed with exhaust from the traffic, but I don’t mind. Up the hill back to home, my legs burn from the exercise and I realize somewhere on that ramble my knots have come untangled. I don’t have answers but I have HIM. He who “calls those things that be not as though they were…” Romans 4:17.
I understand a little, walking briskly past the dirty snow banks and the mailbox broken by the weight of ice, that all around can be a mess, indeed even the inside of us can be in a shambles, but God’s grace is always lovely, always faithful, and blessedly always at the ready. Life springs up within as I climb 3rd Avenue. I have no idea how I’ve been sorted out. And no doubt, like that fiery king who once put his enemies to shame with a slingshot and a single stone, I will have other sticky wickets to unsnarl. Most likely by tonite! But like that same king I can depend on this:
“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.” Psalm 142:3
He knows your way. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep it simple. Love God, love others.
Take a walk.
Your friend on the pilgrim road,