Wednesday, June 3, 2009

God on the Greenway: Robins

Cloudy. Cool. Rainy. Perfect running weather! I was excited to receive such a blessing as I drove to the Greenway today. Not only was the weather great, but the overall mood was great! Running on the Greenway is like entering Narnia or something. It’s just peaceful and beautiful. In fact, instead of my regular upbeat playlist, I decided to listen to the Narnia soundtrack on my iPod (the soundtrack from the first movie).

The run was great! And, as always, the journey was wonderful!! I saw some beautifully colored ducks in the water (and as they chased each other as they flew over the river). I even saw a Great Blue Heron today! I can’t remember the last time I saw that! Wow!! I just love these precious gifts from God! I always wonder what surprises I am going to see each time!!

I love how each run is new and different. This one was no exception. This time, it was a little cool (which I love!) but the one drawback was that I needed a jacket of some sort. I opted for my Jars of Clay hoodie. ;) Needless to say, running isn’t as fun when you feel like you are weighted down with a hoodie and a water bottle. Thinking about that reminded me of just how much of a difference a few pounds make! I thought about how my runs would get easier the more “hoodies” I get rid of. ;) Right now, I am wearing a fifty pound hoodie - but it will only get lighter. ;)

As I pressed onward to the end of the two miles, I looked at my heart rate monitor. I only had about four minutes to go (that is, if I made it to the end of the trail in my standard 25 minutes). I remember thinking, “I’m never going to make it.” That’s right, I actually thought that! I caught myself and I was like, “says who?!” I rejected that thought right then and there. After all, who’s to say whether I will or won’t? There was no way I could know that!! All I KNEW is that I was giving it my best. I wouldn’t KNOW if I met or beat 25 minutes UNTIL I reached the end!! And you know what, I DID make it!! In fact, I believe it was in slightly under 25. ;) I made a mental note: I won’t let Satan, myself, or anyone tell me what I can and can’t do!! ;)

These past few times I have been running, I have been wanting to just turn around and run the last two (with no rest inbetween). However, it hasn’t been happening that way. I’m an “all or nothing/black & white” kind of person a lot of times. So, “resting” like that bothers me a tad. ;) Yet, I did it because I knew I needed it. I had nearly forgotten the fact that I hadn’t run in a few days. For some reason, my body is ridiculously forgetful. It doesn’t get “used to” exercises very easily. That’s why I have to stay extremely consistent with my exercise. God keeps reminding me to take it easy, have balance, and force myself not to be “all or nothing“ all the time. After all, it‘s not like I have to prove anything. I have accomplished a lot already. I don‘t have to be in constant competition against myself. I remember thinking before the run about doing the whole four; but I had to stop myself and say: “Just focus on the two. You can think about the next two when you get there.” I think that’s a good way to go about it. Breaking your goals down into smaller ones helps you achieve more when you just focus on a little at a time.

After my rest, I prepared to start the run back. It was then that I saw a robin. “Big deal, a robin.” Yeah, that’s what I always think too! And why is that? It’s because they’re common and ordinary. Robins don’t have the rareness that other birds have. We see them all the time and don’t think twice about it. I‘ve been becoming increasingly bothered by that “common/ordinary” thought as I have been observing God’s creation on these runs. I can (and should) appreciate God’s little robins just like I can the other things He gives me. So, I decided to watch the robin. Is it just me, or do they always seem so “thoughtful”? They always seem so aware, and they just remain “present” in their surroundings. That’s how this one was. He was just perched and looking about a little. He seemed carefree and content.

I thought about that as I started to run again. The robin embodied the whole mood of the run: peace and contentment. Even with the hoodie, and the water bottle, I could still enjoy the peace of creation and the instrumental soundtrack I was listening to. Even the endless obstacles of goose poop on the trail didn’t bother me as much anymore. I wanted to be carefree too; not letting any kind of crap (whether literally or figuratively) hinder the beauty of the experience I was having. Yet, how often do we let “crap” spoil our moods?

The robin experience got even richer than that as I observed one building a nest later on. I don’t think I have ever watched a bird building their home before. It was great!! The robin was doing what he was made to do. He sings, flies, and builds a home to nurture and comfort his young. Maybe that’s “common” or “ordinary” to us, but in all actuality, is it? What’s so common about purpose? Beyond that, what is common about HUMAN purpose? We are all individuals. We all have purpose! You and I are NOT just “common and ordinary” like that robin. Far from it, we are EXTRAORDINARY!! We are made in God’s image and we share in an inheritance with His Son! That’s special! Yet, we are so often unaware of how uniquely gifted and blessed we are. We compare ourselves to other “birds” that we think are prettier or more functional. Why? What does it matter? Don’t we all serve a purpose? Do the birds lament and worry about whether they are as good as a cardinal, blue jay, robin, etc? How ridiculous it would be to have a world full of animals who worry and compare themselves to each other. How much sillier is it that we as the greater and superior species can‘t be content in the roles we were created to fill! The birds are content and they go about their business; functioning as they were created to function. Why can’t WE take a lesson from that; WE who are worth more than many sparrows and that are all one body made to function together (Matthew 10:31, 1 Corinthians 12:14-31).

I thought about these things as I finished up my run (which had become a walk during the last half mile - I felt led to do so). I hadn’t wanted to slow down, but I felt like God was telling me to stop. After my experience with the untied shoes a while back, I was reminded about how important it was to listen. I had had to stop earlier in the run as well when I started coughing and gagging so badly (I don’t know if I inhaled one of those cottonwood tree fuzzies or what!). I wanted to press through, but I was having a pretty bad episode (thought I was going to throw up and/or pass out). God gently reminded me, “Remember…..loose ends.” Got to take my cues from my personal trainer! So, “all or nothing girl” slowed down lol. Maybe it was the primer I needed to be obedient to the slow down during that last half-mile. I’m glad, because just as I almost reached the end, I saw two Canadian geese on the path with three little ducklings. It was so cute! I don’t remember the last time I seen ducklings like that! I was glad that I was already walking, because I didn’t want to spook them or anything. Yet, as slow and nice as I was going (and they were in the grass beside the path by now) they hissed at me as I started to walk by. Geez, heaven forbid I even LOOK at them or be in the same space!! Obviously, they are forgetting their place in the hierarchy!! God said in Genesis 1:28 that we rule!! :P I ventured closer to the grass on the other side of the path to show them that I wasn’t going to come near them and their babies. I found it annoying that I was the one that had to tip toe around THEM! It’s a people trail, not a goose trail! They were treading on MY territory, not vice versa. It reminded me of how, once again, we forget who we are. We go into “common/ordinary” mode again and we end up yielding to things that have no business taking authority over us. Jesus gave us power and authority (Luke 10:19-20). Therefore, in Jesus name, we can drive out Satan (and whatever/whomever he uses) from our “territory.” They have no business being there trying to take over. The only power they have is what we allow them to have over us.

This is not to say that I would voluntarily duke it out with a goose (even though a part of me would LOVE to wring that scrawny gooseneck!). There’s a time and place for everything. That wasn’t a battle worth fighting; especially in front of the cute and innocent ducklings. ;) I don’t think a goose would understand my rebuke! LOL Likewise, there are other kind of “geese” that don’t understand either. That’s what the Holy Spirit is there for! He’ll help you make the right move (and the move I was to make was planned for me - by leading me to slow down and give the geese their “space”). It pays off to listen to God. ;)

Grace and peace to all of you!! Remember, you are more than common and ordinary! You are unique, special, and made in the image of God!! Power and authority is given to you in Christ! Satan and his schemes cannot prevail against you!! Through the strength of Christ, you can do all things (Philippians 4:13). God bless you all!!

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