SCARY TRAILS

Written by Richard Pidgley (Birmingham UK)

Richard Pidgley is married to Lynne, has two adult sons and two super cute grandsons. Richard is an AoG minister who leads Millpool Hill Church in Birmingham U.K. Richard has an MA in missional leadership and loves to teach the Word of God. He also loves early morning trail running.

November 9, 2021

Autumn is here and it is fast giving way to the onset of winter.
It is that time of the year when I get out of bed a few hours before sunrise to head out for a run.
The warmth of the early morning on my trails is now a thing of the past —Instead of watching a glorious sunrise, my runs take place in the cold, pre-dawn, when everything is covered in a thick and sometimes foggy blanket of darkness. 

This morning, I decided to run around some trails that circumnavigate three lakes a few miles from my home.
The lakes are beautiful, but when I got out of my car to pick up the trail, it was so dark that I could hardly see my hand in front of my face.
It was a good thing that I had a powerful runner’s head torch with me!
As I switched on the torch, its powerful focused beam cut through the darkness.
I turned my Garmin on and started to run along the isolated trail.

There was water on either side of the path, which was also lined with thick bushes and trees.
The light from my head torch cast creepy shadows from the trees that seemed to reach out like ghostly fingers.

A kilometre into my run, I realised that my breathing was somewhat laboured and my steps were much faster than my usual easy pace.
Without consciously thinking about it, the creepy atmosphere of that dark trail had caused my pace to increase, as if I was running from something that was chasing me.

Then, suddenly, out of the darkness, a Heron appeared on the path directly in front of me.
My heart almost stopped as my torch captured the prehistoric wraith-like creature as it flapped its wings and flew upwards, disappearing into the inky, black sky.
As my heart tried to regain its composure, still wildly pounding in my chest, I started to meditate on a familiar passage of Scripture that had helped me through many scary moments on my journey of faith…

“Light, space, zest- that’s GOD! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.” (MSG, Psalm 27:1)

Thankfully, there were no more unexpected surprises on my early morning run, but whilst running I got thinking about two great spiritual truths.

LIGHT OVERCOMES DARKNESS

My head torch reminded me that Jesus is the ‘Light of the World’.
We certainly live dark times.
Crime, violence, sexual immorality, greed, lies, substance abuse and idolatrous behaviour abound as men choose to live without God.
And yet, for those of us that believe in Christ, we have His light illuminating our way.
The Psalmist did not have a head torch but he knew the value of God’s word giving light and revelation as he moved forward in life.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (NLT, Psalm 119:105)

Although my head torch didn’t light up the entire trail route, the light that it gave me was sufficient for my immediate steps.
I had enough light to move forward and safely navigate the trail full of low branches and roots that stretched across the path like great snakes.
Psalm 37 tells us that the ‘steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord’ and this refers to our immediate steps.
I don’t need to worry about how dark the trail is a kilometre ahead and likewise, I don’t need to worry about tomorrow. 

In running or facing challenges in life, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed by darkness, maybe even shrouded by some presence of sinister evil.
When this happens, boldly declare out loud:

‘THE LORD IS MY LIGHT AND SALVATION – I WILL NOT BE AFRAID’

WE ARE NOT ON OUR OWN

Running that isolated, dark trail surrounded by water, trees and dense bush made me vulnerable and alone.
But the words of Psalm 23 comforted me as I pounded along that lonely path.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” (NLT, Psalm 23:4)

Now, to the human eye, I was just some crazy solo runner venturing out way before dawn, maybe even an ‘easy’ target for someone intending me harm.
And yet, I was actually running with six run buddies.
How so? 

Well, when I go out on my own I’m actually accompanied by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Yes, the four of us run together and although the trails of life can be tough, and at times, so demanding that I wonder if I will make it to the finish line, my divine friends set the pace and somehow I find being with them helps me run better than without them.

Then, there’s the other two ‘runners’, ‘Goodness’ and ‘Mercy’.
These guys have been running with me for a long time and they are committed to following me all the days of my life! (Psalm 23:6) 

Last but not least, there is he who is assigned by Heaven to stay at my side – The Angel of the Lord!

“For the Angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” (NLT, Psalm 34:7)

Yes, for a fleeting moment on that creepy trail,  I had felt alone and vulnerable, but then when I remembered I was running with six others, my fears dissipated and disappeared.

Don’t forget too, that as a Kingdom Runner, you are part of a global running community, united in Christ, connected through prayer and strengthened by the encouragement of others as you interact on the Kingdom Runners page.

Application 1:

Welcome the Light into your life by reading and meditating on the Word of God – Let the Light shine deep into your heart, allowing it to search out any darkness (Psalm 139: 23).
Treasure God’s Word and hide it in your heart so that your desire will be for Him and not sin (Psalm 119:11).
When your life is aligned to God’s Word, you will shine like a star and be able to hold forth God’s glorious word to others, bringing divine light to their darkness (Phil 2:15-16).


Why not use the words of the hymn, ‘Shine Jesus shine’ as your prayer:

Lord, I come to your awesome presence

From the shadows into your radiance

By the blood I may enter your brightness

Search me, try me, and consume all my darkness

Shine on me, shine on me

Application 2:

Don’t run through life alone, there is no need to when God promises us His presence, that goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life and that the Angel of the Lord encamps around us.
Personally, I find that worship and prayer help me sense the tangible presence of God.
When I stop to thank God for goodness, mercy and angelic help, I am comforted and assured that all is well with my soul.

Memory verse:

Light, space, zest- that’s GOD! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. (Psalm 27:1 MSG)

Challenge:

Go for a run ‘out of your comfort zone’.
Stay safe but try a different place or pace.
Try interacting more in the group page and encourage others in the Lord.

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