I recently set out to go on a run...a run that started a little late in the morning on a hot summer day in Nashville. By the time I got back to my car it was a whopping 93 degrees outside.
I started my run at an average pace for me, feeling confident and thankful to be able to pass a couple people along the path. I often use my running time for prayer and to remind myself to run the race set before me! So, I began my prayer run.
About one mile in I began to slow significantly and decided to shorten my 5 mile run to 3 miles. So I made a turn where I could have a pit stop at the local YMCA and get some much needed water. I thought to myself, “What was I thinking? It’s just too hot!” Yet, I pressed on. On this side path I saw an elderly woman walking slowly carrying a cane horizontal to the ground, her right knee tightly supported in a brace, breathing heavily and dripping with sweat. She slowly trudged down the same path headed to the Y. “Hey self!!!!” (I thought to myself) “If this dear lady can be out here in this heat, what right do you have to grumble?” In that moment, I was reminded of the Israelites on the other side of the Red Sea, and how God had provided for them miraculously, but three days later in the desert, they were already losing faith in His miracles...
“So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” (Exodus 15:24)
So I prayed: “God, help me not to grumble when things look scary. I want to trust you even when the heat is on!”
I pushed on. I rounded the next corner and began going up a steep hill, wishing there was someone behind me to push me up. Two ladies sauntered past me from the opposite direction looking at me like I was mad. I was struggling to get to the top. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of His promise, “...I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut 31:6) I was gratefully reminded of His faithfulness.
Again, I prayed: “God, help me to call on You first in my time of need. I thank you for your promises!”
I made it to the YMCA. I went inside for a drink of water and to catch my breath in the cool air. My confidence returned and I was ready for the return trip back to my car. I made it back down the side path, and back out to the main greenway path. I made a right, pulling out of the shade of the trees, feeling thankful and willing to complete the track. Like a horse headed to the barn, I was thankful to know I only had a mile to go!
The sun was blazing on my face and I passed the same two women, young & fit, slowly walking back toward the YMCA. As I passed them, I heard one of them say, “Look at her breathing through her mouth!” I wanted to retaliate and tell them if they moved a little faster they might break a sweat! But, immediately, the Lord reminded me of the importance of hearing His still small voice through the noise of this life. Ignore the earthquake, the fire, the wind...listen for His voice alone.
My prayer: God, I don’t want to give in to man’s opinion. Help me always to hear your voice and obey without delay!” I pressed on. Only a half mile to go!
Back into a wooded area, the shade was a welcoming friend. Up ahead I saw two young teenagers yelling and throwing things at the base of a tree. As I got closer I could tell they were frightened and I yelled “Is it safe for me to run by?” The older one laughed and nodded. As I edged closer I could see they were throwing rocks at something. The younger boy yelled “It’s a midget snake!” The other one started laughing. I quickly zipped by so the “midget snake” couldn’t get to me. Then, I heard the second boy cry out in his strong southern accent, “That ain’t no midget snake...that’s a snail!” I laughed at their silliness and it gave me a little more adrenalin to keep pushing. But, through my laughter, the Lord reminded me that although satan comes around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) I can choose to resist the enemy's tactics and stand firm in my faith of Who Jesus Christ is...and that is where my protection exists. Satan is just a midget snake! Ha! I laughed at the image in my head thanking God that if things in life look scary and uncertain and I choose to stay close and listen, He will always guide and protect me...even in the face of a midget snake!