Someone to hear your prayers, someone who’s there.”
- Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus” (video after post)
Here is the “tease” for this weekend’s sermon at a local church:
It just spoke to me, like … like … it was some kind of sign or something. And I figured that since they asked … I should go ahead and offer a couple of answers. Just what IS my Jesus like, anyway?
Almost immediately, I thought of the ridiculous Sports Jesus statues (often referred to jokingly as "Jesus Got Game" and other silly monikers) that have become a bit of an Internet laughingstock, and the goofy thought that came to mind was this: my Jesus is a trail runner.
I mean ... you know Jesus would be awesome at it, right? He’s probably got leg strength and lung capacity that’s completely off the charts. He’s not much for frills – in fact, he’s content to run with long hair and sandals like the Tarahumara runners who once visited (and dominated) the Leadville 100 in the early 1990s in nothing more than shorts and leather huaraches. I can run beside him like a child; he runs alongside me like an eternal pacer, able to pull me through the toughest, darkest sections of any adventure.
Granted, my example is kind of corny - and the statue is patently absurd - but there’s actually an element of seriousness to such thoughts for me. As it happens, this same topic came up in a small group discussion a couple of weeks ago, where I made a statement that might be somewhat objectionable: namely, that I get far more spiritual meaning out of a multi-hour trail run than I do while sitting in church.
If I ever begin to wonder about the presence of some divine hand in my life, I usually need look no further than the trails I travel day after day. The easiest way to for me restore my faith is to become immersed in the beauty of God’s creation - and there’s no more effective way for me to do that than to experience humility on the slopes of a high mountain, in the depths of a forest, or through a vast open countryside.
These are the moments where I marvel at the grand design; these are the places of beautiful seclusion where I sense God’s presence most acutely. I’m reminded that I’m another one of His creations, just as fearfully and wonderfully made as the most majestic surroundings I’ll ever encounter. It’s humbling, and inspiring, and the most compelling path to worship that I’ve ever known.
So yeah, as corny as it sounds … my Jesus is a trail runner. I’m not sure if that’s the answer the pastor has in mind on Sunday, but it’s the one that works for me. I’m hoping that’s all that matters.
*P.S. This Saturday, my Jesus and I will be taking in the sights of the Western States trail, at the first day of the WS training camp. The 32-mile run will be my first taste of the challenge that awaits in (gulp!) a mere five weeks – and it should give me lots of material to pray about.
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?”
- Job 12:7-9 (New International Version)
“Reach out and touch faith.”
- Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus” (click to play)
(P.P.S. I actually like Marilyn Manson's version of this song a lot better ... but those guys are WAY too creepy for me. So you're getting the original, which is still pretty darn cool.)