Fall running is fantastic. Those of you who run or jog know what I’m talking about. The chill in the air is perfect for keeping you cool while you pound the pavement. The brilliant colors of the leaves are stunning, so I was pretty excited to get outside and run.
At first, the bright sun in the sky with the brisk fall air was perfect. It felt great, and I made good time for my first mile or so. But as I kept going, the sun started to feel really warm on my face. I was headed southeast on the trail, and I started wishing for some wind to cool me down a bit. My second mile was not as fast, and I was dreading the large hill that I knew was coming in the third mile.
I kept going and made it up the big hill. I still felt a little sad that my run wasn’t going as well as I had hoped. When I turned around after mile three to head back, I realized something. The wind was blowing. It had been blowing in my direction the whole time, pushing me forward. And now, I had to run back to my car against it.
This experience reminded me of a phrase I read in the New Testament recently. It was an odd phrase, so I looked it up to figure out what it meant. In Acts, we read about the experience of Saul. He had been persecuting the early Christians. Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus, which resulted in his miraculous repentance. Christ accused Saul of “kick[ing] against the pricks.”
I learned that a prod was used to drive an animal forward and keep it headed in the correct direction. Some animals were more stubborn than others. If the animal fought with its master, it could injure itself on the sharp end of the “prick.”
Paul had been fighting against his Master and was injuring himself and the early Saints. When he stopped fighting and followed the Savior, he was renamed Paul. We are able to attribute much of the New Testament to this man’s missionary work and letters.
What does this have to do with running? I realized that I hadn’t felt the gentle push of the wind at my back because it was going the same direction as I was headed. Coincidently, I was running towards to sun. Sometimes following the path laid out for us by God can be uncomfortable. We may find ourselves wondering why He isn’t helping us. But that doesn’t mean we are going in the wrong direction. It wasn’t until I turned away from the sun and fought the headwind back to my car that I realized how much it had been helping me. Luckily, the wind is much gentler to fight than a sharp prod.
I didn’t set any personal records that day, but I’m grateful for my experience. I hope to be receptive to the “pricks” I receive when God lets me know I need to correct my course. And I’m even more grateful to know that He is always there to push me forward, even when I can’t feel it.
With gratitude for fall,