Not long ago, my friend, Melanie, asked me a few questions regarding my “running” life. She has recently started a new blog for running moms and graciously allowed me a post all my own. You can read it here. One of her questions centered on my running route—the place I best liked to run. My answer?
The neighborhood behind my house.
When responding to her questions, I still lived there… on a busy highway that prevented my running endeavors. Accordingly, most days I opted for the brief walk through a field behind my house in order to secure a safe running path in the neighborhood that bumped up against my backyard fence. For nearly six years, it was my path. It no longer is my path. Instead, my path has led me to a new neighborhood… one with tree-lined streets and landscaped yards and the sounds of sprinklers and lawn mowers and birds desperately trying to make peace with the scorching summer temperatures. I took to those streets a couple of days ago… paying close attention to landmarks and being careful to notice my surroundings.
I had a good run; I was relieved to get it behind me. There’s a bit of mystery attached to this unknown path. Taking to it rather than retreating from it has been a good approach for me as I navigate this continuing journey of faith. It doesn’t serve the kingdom or my fears to stay isolated within my four walls. Hibernating… hiding only prolongs the process of my becoming, and for those of you who know me at any level, I’m all about my becoming. I cannot abide a stagnant heart and life. Staying stuck in yesterday isn’t an option for me, even though there are moments when I long for the safety of its embrace. Thus, I took to the streets of my new community, and I thought about Melanie’s question and what it means for me as I begin to turn the pages of this new chapter in my journey.
Running the neighborhood.
We all have one, you know… a neighborhood. A place given to us by God for the generous dispensation of our hearts and his kingdom seed. He doesn’t intend for us to stay isolated in our lives, removed from the world and safely entrenched in personal confinement. Instead, God means for us to lace up our shoes and to hit the streets with the witness of our willing faith. To put pavement beneath our feet because, in doing so, we move our faith forward rather than keeping it buried in our ellipses.
Your neighborhood may not look like mine. Yours might be altogether different from mine. I will never “live” there with you, and you will never “live” here with me, but all of us share a common interest—a single connection that requires us to move past the fear in order to take hold of a rich faith. To see beyond the old that has kept us and to embrace the new that God has parceled out before us.
For most of us, that’s a scary prospect. Living with the unknown is a difficult abiding for those who enjoy reading the last page of the novel over taking the necessary pains to get there, one page at a time. Some would rather skip the mystery and live the sure reality that precludes any measure of uncertainty, any growth in personal faith. This has been my temptation in recent days, but when I bow my head before the Father, when I engage his heart in the matter, I see a Jesus who didn’t skip the mystery but who was, instead, deeply invested into every page of the story… not just the conclusion.
Jesus didn’t miss anything in his earthly tenure. Jesus laced up his sandals and took to the streets of his neighborhood, paying very close attention to the landmarks and giving special attention to his surroundings. He didn’t miss a thing… not one moment, not one person. Wherever he walked, he lived. Whatever he saw, he touched. No day in the life of Jesus was wasted. He was never “not” in the mood to be Jesus. He didn’t forsake the journey of faith for fear of his making a mistake. He simply did what he came to do… to run the streets of his neighborhood and to elevate his heart rate in accordance with his Father’s.
That’s neighborhood running, friends. That’s what it means to be a kingdom runner, regardless of the soil that claims the soles of your feet… the soul of your heart.
I don’t have clue what this means for me in the days to come; I only know and fully believe that I can run my “neighborhood” because there is One who has gone before me and given me a perfect example of how I might more perfectly and deliberately live my faith on the pavement of real life. I will not let my fear keep me bound within these four walls. I will, instead, let my fear drive me to my knees and to my Father who has promised to run my neighborhood with me and to make sure that I don’t miss a thing.
Oh for the eyes and faith to see and to live like my Jesus! That is the prayer of my heart this night; the prayer I hold for you as well. Keep to the road, friends. Run your neighborhoods and live your faith in the strength and grace of your Jesus who has promised you his courage and perspective for the road ahead. In the midst of all the changes that are going on in my life, I am thankful that my blogging address remains the same—
a good and loving neighborhood to run with you in this season. Thank you for loving me as you do and for allowing me a few moments of gracious entry in and around the streets surrounding your home. You are a landmark worthy of my notice… worthy of our Father’s as well. I love you each one and will endeavor to jog past your place sometime this week. As always…
Peace for the journey,