As I disembark from my car, grab my fuelbelt, dawn my iPod shuffle and lace up my trail shoes – I quickly step thru the gate and off I go into a world that looks like a cross between the corn fields in "Field of Dreams" and a bad haircut – I quickly realize that this run, this trail will become my sanctuary for the next 30-45 minutes.
As each foot strikes the earth, the sound echoes in my head and is quickly drowned out by whatever song is cycling through my iPod shuffle at the time. The trail is dry and dusty, a light brown, that crunches under my feet – the air is stale and cool and its just me and the trail. Typically when I run, the trail becomes my sanctuary, a place where God speaks to me – even over the music that echoes between my ears. In this case, my thoughts run to the speech I need to give on Thursday as I begin to formulate my thoughts on coaching. I also replay the days events, thanking God that I was able to exit work early (after 11 hours) and hit the trails before the light ceased to exist.
Another thought begins to percalate through my head – what are the things that "grieve the heart of God". Then my thoughts run to the book that my friend and I would like to write on "true, authentic accountability & what that looks like", and somehow these two thoughts are intertwined. I know that when I look at my mistakes (and there are plenty & that's just today), I see a stark contrast between the man I want to be and the man I am. I wonder how many times I have grieved the heart of God? How many selfish times I have put my needs above those who are closest to me? The quick and dirty answer is far too many to count & that, my friends, is what "grieves the heart of God". Everytime WE go in contrast to the will of God. Everytime WE choose fleshly desires over the pure & right path. Everytime WE choose to do the opposite of what God would want us to do – we "grieve the heart of God". (Notice the pattern here – WE)
Now, we are not perfect beings – that's for sure, but we do have a choice to make & sometimes we make the right one & other times we fall prey to our sin. The question is: are we going to "fail forward" as John Maxwell says – learning from our mistakes or are we going to fail backwards repeating our same failures – most of the time it is a little bit of both.
However, there is a wonderful provision from God – it is called "grace" (unmerited favor) and thank God there is, because without it I would be sunk. I don't deserve His forgiveness, but He gives it. I don't deserve His love, but He shows it. I don't deserve second chances, but He provides them and thirds and fourths and so one. (See this pattern – HE, not WE) In the end, our goal should be simple – follow God's leading. Sometimes He disciplines for instruction & guidance. Sometimes He needs to teach the same lesson over and over and over and over and . . . you get the picture until I learn it – and each time it gets a little less painful.
The best part of the run is when I was climbing back up the singletrack – I crest the top of the hill, look over the homes to the west to see a glorious sky free of clouds with the richest of colors and tones. That is God's grace poured out for us in a watercolor of love.
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