Several months ago, my sweet friend Peggy wrapped up her fight against cancer and went home to be with the Savior she loves. Her funeral was a joyous, sad, sweet affair in which we all had the privilege to glimpse Heaven for a moment. When one of her former pastors rose to speak he quoted her as often saying to him, “Scotty, I do not think you are yet as free as God means for you to be.” We all laughed because that was so Peggy and because the statement rang true for not only Scotty’s life but for all of us as well.
It has been a little over three weeks since a troubled young man with a knife in his hand lay in wait for me while I was running. God delivered me so dramatically that for days I was absolutely high with the realization of just how securely I rest in his hand. From the very beginning, I knew I would go back to the trail to run. The police officers assured me that what happened to me was by far the exception. So, as long as my attacker remains in jail, there is no reason I should not return.
I went right back two days later and I have to admit to being a little jumpy but I am determined that what happened that day will not sow fear into my life, but the freedom God has planned for me instead. I ran again today, and it felt a little better than the last time but it wasn’t long until God whispered to my spirit that just showing up there and muscling through the apprehension is not enough. He wants me to be completely made whole and as long as the tendrils of fear stalk me there I am not truly free to hear his voice.
In short, I am not yet as free as He wants me to be.
And…..I know I can’t get there on my own. It is a perfectly normal and natural response for me to be afraid in when I return there. Yes, God delivered me that morning. The knife remained in the young man’s hand and then, for reasons I am not sure anyone will understand this side of Heaven, at the last moment he turned and ran from me instead of hurting me. Yet…the terror of those few minutes has left an imprint on my soul.
Oh, I have been so blessed. I have not lost one moment of sleep. There have been no bad dreams. When I close my eyes and remember his face so close to mine and that knife in his hand the terror is gone. All of that is miraculous but God wants more for me. He wants me to be able to be so secure and at peace as I run the trail that it is again what it once was for me: a sanctuary where I meet with The Lover of my Soul.
So, at the end of the run I sat on a low stone wall over looking the river. The morning was cold and crisp as brilliant sunlight filtered down through the trees and reflected off the water below. “God,” I prayed. “I want to be that free. Pour out your Spirit on me and take me there….”
An older man entered the trail behind me and smiled when he saw me sitting on the wall, soaking in the beauty of the morning. I smiled back and said hello to which he grinned and said, “Don’t jump.”
I laughed to myself as he walked away, rose and dusted off my running pants. “Don’t jump”…mmmm…I couldn’t be further away from that…
God is good.