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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Great Adventure: Travels to Come, Prayers to Pray, Preparations to Make.

On and off throughout my life I have gone through seasons where I run frequently. I'm not an amazing runner. I'd even say that I have a love/hate relationship with it. But it never ceases to amaze me how good running is for me; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The physical side doesn't need much explaining. This is really the core reason why I get back into running every time I do-- I love to eat and with that comes some unwanted side effects; namely, my sides expanding. Emotionally, it feels good to have some control of your life and your body. You see some physical changes, you begin to feel healthier, and you can't help but feel good; and you gain a sense of accomplishment.

But the big one for me is what happens for me spiritually. When I go running I find that my mind connects well with God. I'm often led to prayer. Songs pop into my head. People pop into my head. I don't want to read into it too deeply, but on some level I really feel that God directs my thoughts to certain things and people to pray for. It's also incredible to me the number of spiritual parallels that can be  drawn between our spiritual lives and running. So for me running is a very rich time of praying and connecting with our Heavenly Father.

Two songs came into my head this past week on two separate days while running. The first song is an oldie. Back in about 1995-'98 I was a pretty big fan of Steven Curtis Chapman. One of my favorite songs of his was 'The Great Adventure.' It's pretty dated, and when it popped into my head, I actually kind of laughed about it. But I loved that song, and I recalled the entire thing, word for word. It came rushing back to me and I realized the honesty, beauty, and truth in the words of that song-- and how relevant they are to what we're doing; to what all of us are doing, as we follow Christ! So, here are the lyrics that especially stood out to me:




Started out this morning in the usual way

Chasing thoughts inside my head of all I had to do today

Another time around the circle 

Try to make it better than the last

I opened up the Bible and I read about me

Said I'd been a prisoner and God's grace had set me free

And somewhere between the pages it hit me like a lightning bolt

I saw a big frontier in front of me and I heard somebody say "let's go"!




Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze

Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace

Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown

This is a life like no other - 

This is The Great Adventure




I mentioned 2 songs, though, didn't I? The second that came to mind was 'Prepare Ye, the Way of the Lord' from Godspell. 

When my family moved to Fergus Falls, MN in 1999 we went as a family to the production of 'Godspell' at the Center for the Arts in Fergus. The show began with the actor portraying the rough equivalent of John the Baptist walking down the aisle from the back of the theater singing with no accompaniment 'Prepare Ye, the Way of the Lord.' I don't need to type the lyrics of that song for you, because it's simply that phrase over and over again. But that arrangement and those simple words repeated over and over have stuck with me. There's something so beautiful, powerful, and profound about those 7 words. 

So I asked myself, "What do these words mean for me? How can I... or am I... preparing the way for the Lord?"

I didn't even remember that those two songs had come to my mind while running until today. Today as I sat on the couch reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I remembered the two of them and I connected those two songs. I spent some time thinking over the words. Praying over the words. Meditating over them. 

What do they mean to you? 

We're working on our last couple assignments that we need to finish before leaving the country. One of them requires reading the book I mentioned above. It's not an easy read, but it's rich. The first part addresses the spiritual disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. I think the word 'discipline' has taken on a negative connotation in our current day and age and certainly in this generation-- but these are disciplines that when boiled down are basically just intentional ways of spending time and communicating with the God I love. There's nothing negative about that whatsoever!

It's comforting. It's inspiring. It makes me excited to 'follow our leader into the glorious unknown.' The next leg of our journey begins next week as we pack everything up again and hit the road to spend time with all of you-- introducing Kaia to our friends and family spread across the States.  We're one step closer to Ecuador. 

I'm ready. I'm excited. And I want to make it my goal, today and every day, to prepare the way of the Lord.


-jim

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