There is nothing like calves and quads burning up a steep hill on a path that has long since surrendered to wildflowers and fallen trees to remind me how small I am and how great He is.
Sitting at the base of some granite wall God placed here in His time as a monument of beauty and glory I reflect on the path I've just run.
It started easily--downhill in trees that blocked me from the ever-present Wyoming wind. The path was obvious as I followed it up a leisurely, unobstructed hill. As I descended again the path grew smaller and windier. The small bits of rock covering the hill made it dangerous to run too quickly down the hill. The path was covered with flowering bushes that tickled my legs--a warning to slow down. This led to a dark place.
Under looming rock formations, in the black shade of hovering pines I was chilled. Downed trees covered the path. I went left and could not pass. Right yet I could not pass. I had to slow and climb over. Because some obstacles we have to face head on and this never seems more true than we are in dark places.
On the other side of the obstacle I was rewarded with sunlight, a breeze, and that obvious path that beckoned me silently, "this way".
And I followed the path because I knew it was the way. I trusted, blindly. I didn't question; I followed and I was at peace with that choice.
But paths never stay the same--do they?
I was running. Lost in the beauty of blue skies and quaking aspen leaves. Suddenly I realized I was not on a path. I was just running at the base of a huge rock formation. No map to show me the way; no friend to guide me. I was alone. Without direction--without a path to follow.
I contemplated going back--to find that trail in the sun where it was easier. But I knew in my heart that I could never go back; I could only go forward.
So I slowed my pace and went on looking for clues to lead me to the finish line. I saw nothing but pressed on. Slowly. Methodically. Timidly.
And then I saw it--on the right.
A grassy area covered with flowers and trees stumps. When I looked closely I noticed that some of that grass lay to one side--as though it had been walked on. Not by many--but by someone. And perhaps the one who made this path made it for me. Hesitantly I stepped once. Twice. It was hard to discern this path. I had to pay attention--I had to work at it. But I followed this barely-there, new territory, trust me and follow path.
I followed without knowing where I was going. Without knowing if it was the right way. Without having a reason or a purpose. I followed this rarely used path hoping it was the one for me.
It led me through muddy waters. Over tress and over rocks. I stumbled thrice. But I kept jogging ever hopeful--refusing to listen to those sneaky thoughts that I ought to go back because this was the wrong way. I ran on.
Soon enough the path widened and the growth became less and less. The wind picked up carrying voices. Ahead climbers were ascending a climb, comfortably trusting their ropes and harnesses.
And there was the path. Wide. Well traveled. Obvious.
Here it hits me that this path was here the whole time. I'd gotten off it at one turn or another. Distracted, prideful--perhaps both--I followed my own way. Yet He was there. Making a way through the wilderness. Stepping into those grasses to guide me. Whispering encouragement on the wings of a passing butterfly. Offering hope in the cooling breeze.
These paths--they guide us and lead us. They aren't easy. Paths don't mean that the run won't leave me sore, tired, or breathless. They don't mean you won't get lost or take your own way. They aren't always discernible. Sometimes it's hard to even trust that paths are there because it doesn't feel like they are there.
But there is always a Way.
And so it goes with faith.