Running as Worship
Before the mercury hits 90,
before my favorite farmer wakes,
before the children stir,
I am already running.
The sun lifts the curtain on this day, chasing darkness across curving sky. And I chase Light down country roads.
Who knew that running could be worship? Who knew that some days, this would be the best rest I’ll get all day — when feet pound pavement and lungs open deep to thick July mornings?
I lace up the Asics, and push a button to lift the garage door, eyelid opening on the day. Earth and I stretch awake together.
Tassled corn waves at me — row upon row, stacked up against the dawn. A buck stares at me, frozen. Is it fear?
And I tremble, too. I tremble at the bigness of this rock hurling through space, carrying the smallness of me and a deer who are held on by an unseen gravitational pull.
This trembling is bursting-awe and reverence and yirah. It is a sudden reawakening and awareness of His Heaven-high majesty and His ocean-depth power. I’m overcome. I feel like I might just float right off the Earth, like E.T. and those boys on their bikes.
I’ve felt this before. I’ve felt it at the edge of the ocean in February, half-afraid it would carry me out to sea. I’ve felt it at the lip of the Grand Canyon, and biking down Haleakala. I’ve felt it at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
It’s the bigness of God, meeting the smallness of me — and this morning, He and I collide in a flurry of yirah and agape on the side of an Iowa cornfield.
He’s come to run with me again, one of His prodigal daughters. And it’s true what the Good Book says: That the Father is always at the edge of the fields waiting for the wayward ones to come home.
My friend Ann, another farmer’s wife, calls Him the Running God.
“You the Running God,
God who pounds the Earth with your elated feet
to throw holy arms around the grimy neck
of the swine-herder and prodigal and wretch like me …”
— Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience
And when I trace paths down these country roads, I hear His name in my spirit:
Running God …
Running God …
I listen for God when I run. We talk. And I hum praise, and then I blush as I wonder if the old man driving by in his pickup saw me lifting a hand. Oh, mercy … But if I look like a fool, let me be a fool for Christ.
I push hard up the hill on the fourth mile, and my legs are tired and my lungs scream, enough already!
And I just shake my head and smile and think that God really does have a sense of humor. Because, somehow running — even when it hurts a little — has become a spiritual experience to a woman who couldn’t have run to the mailbox back in January.
I take the final turn, up the driveway and past that mailbox.
I step in through the back door — a dripping mess, sucking air. My favorite farmer is awake, at the computer checking the forecast and sipping coffee. (He always worries when I take to these roads. He’s afraid a driver won’t see me, or maybe that I’ll just keel over in a ditch.)
He greets me home with a smile, and a fresh cup and the perfect words for a prodigal child constantly in need of a Savior: “Welcome back. I’m glad you’re home.”
Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience as we consider spiritual practices that draw us nearer to God. This week, we consider in community: “Listening to God.” Her post on Soulcoustics today is worth a read … You can find Ann at www.HolyExperience.com.
A question for you: When have you experienced this “bigness of God” meeting up with the smallness of humanity?
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He is faitful to meet us wherever we look for Him.
I wish I could run.. you make it sond quite inviting!
Wonderful story! I loved every bit of it.
It confirms this scripture that has been on my mind and in my heart the last couple of days from John 3:30…
"He must increase, but I must decrease."
And He does. My prayer is that I do too.
I just shivered when I read this post. It was as if you were writing my thoughts.
The other day, I also got to "run with the deer." I got to "run with God."
You are right. It's almost unexplainable, but somehow God likes it when we exercise. 🙂
I was “at the lip of the Grand Canyon” just Sunday! And I know that feeling you speak of. God is so big; I am so small. It’s the way I want it to be. A beautiful post, Jennifer. Thanks.
This is beautiful poetry Jennifer. I felt my heart running with you.
I get the same feeling when I'm walking (I'm afraid my running days are behind me!). We sing a song in our church which says, "All creation worships You; declares Your Holy Name." Oh how it does, and how it makes our hearts sing.
You KNOW this title caught my eye!!!I love to worship with the Lord on my runs. Just the two of us pounding away the miles. Beautiful post, sweet friend. Make sure to buy you a reflective vest for runners so the farmer won't worry as much!!
oh, this. this is close to my heart. beautiful, jennifer. running with you.
Unable to run, I still feel the God of which you speak …
Thank you for this one, Jennifer. I experienced Him JUST this morning as I viewed pictures of my son climbing a mountain. Our Yahweh is all around, everywhere we look and what a delight when we get to see Him and HIS glory!
Jennifer – thanks for the great post today that reminds us that worship is not a thing, but that worship is who we are in Christ!
You bless me my sweet friend. I love how you call your husband your favorite farmer. i have always called mine my favorite preacher…
Jennifer, You have a way with words, a way of making God more visable. Thank you for this.
And, BTW, cute shoes! 🙂
I have come and gone and come again to running . . . it's amazing how Jesus runs along with us, if we let him. Sometimes, I put the headphones on and turn up the music or NPR too loud, and I miss the quiet with him, miss hearing his footsteps beside me. When I do listen, though, it's amazing.
It's been a thrill "watching" you become a runner. What a great gift for you and your family.
I would like to say that you really made my day, it's wonderful when you just look around the web
and find something like this, reminds me of that ''How to make a dinner for a romantic…'' by Elsa Thomas,
you're a wonderful writer let me tell you!!! ñ_ñ
James Maverick (email@example.com)
3453 Rardin Drive
San Mateo, CA 94403
Love it! The other day I was walking, as I gave up running a few years ago, and passed by the Partridge Family. No joke. I saw two adult partridges (mom and dad, no doubt) and five little partridges and they were crossing the road right in front of me. Wish I'd had a camera! It was too precious.
I love it when God meets me on my walks too, which He always does if I bother to seek Him.
Love that you're running and love what you find there. It reminds me of my 1000 Hikes.
You know I always feel His Greatness when I'm lost in the grandeur of His creation.
I'm not one for running but maybe I'll start walking (not sure about summer in this desert) as a spiritual exercise.
A few weeks ago weaving our way through the Needles Highway it struck me, as we rolled along, dwarfed in our big clunky SUV by the massive hills and rocks and outcroppings that He just reached into the earth and pushed those out with His index finger.
We think we're really something. And to Him, we really are. But good golly, we're something really small.
That is exactly how I feel when I ride my bicycle out along country roads edged with fertile farmland, wide open spaces of ranchland and endless blue skies where I live.
Cycling is my favorite time to talk things over with God, to think, to listen, to drink it all in, to savor life. I sing a lot on my bicycle too.
I feel God's pleasure when I ride my bicycle.
…And I run some too. I too have done the raise my hands in praise when I'm running.Can't help it.
Cycling and running make me so, so very grateful for my life, my breath, my chance to be with God, to feel His love all around me. Makes me really appreciate all over again how much I love living out in the country too.
This was beautiful…my heart never fails to be touched when I visit here…
I'm the worst morning person there is…but I have come to love early morning runs before the sun breaks the horizon. There's just something about that insanely early hour, so fresh and new, beautiful and calm. And it lasts for only a few moments, but makes the entire day worthwhile. No other time of the day is anything like it.
July 9th I took to the pavement. I went from "I can't run" to "I love it" (Mostly!) And I have seen and smelled and felt such wonderful moments with the Lord. Ah!
..didn't know you were a farm girl…kindred are we. I grew up on a dairy in MN and now on a hobby farm in WI. I farm flowers! 🙂 …where I have many moments with Jesus there too!
Kathy S! We're practically neighbors! Thanks for coming by. Flower-farming sounds like a delightful vocation.
Janis — Running in the desert would be a stretch for me, too. I much prefer running in 15-degree days in Iowa, rather than these hot humid days of July!
DivasTourFrance — I was worried you were going to tell me you were raising hands in praise while bike-riding. Now that WOULD be crazy! ~smile~
Elizabeth — I think the early-morning part is a big part of it, too. Seems like you've written something about that over at your place, right? If you can, drop a link here in the comment box.
LisaNotes — How cool! Hope you had a marvelous vacation experiencing our Great Big God!
I've recently began working out, outside…well actually pretty much just started working out altogether, it just happened to take place outside! My first morning at boot camp a few months ago, I noticed how beautiful everything was at 5 am(I'm not a morning person, so I had never been up quite this early before!) The sun was just about ready to peak out of the darkness, the sky was fading from darkness to pink, and it was beautiful. How beautiful God's creations are! I now love to run in the mornings because everything is so calm and peaceful at that time of the day! I've recently been thinking to myself if anyone else talks with God when they exercise! Glad to know I'm not the only one! 🙂