I went for a walk with God this morning. He suggested I get out of bed and put foot to pavement every morning by 7am, no matter how tired I was. If you have learned to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit within you, you know his voice will not let up until you follow through. I thought it was about getting back into shape and losing some weight. But I also had a small inclination that the real reason for the walk was that God had something to teach me. It is a great adventure when you follow him. You just get up and move forward, not thinking about where you are going. You simply trust that there is a plan and have faith that the outcome is for your good.
Today I was lead to go on an old trail through the woods on Andreggs Hill. It is an area that I grew up around, and I used to know every trail like the back of my hand. I walked down dusty gravel roads in the heat of the morning until I entered the dark coolness of the woods. All of a sudden fear stopped me in my tracks. Then I heard the Lord, in my mind, say... ”I will be with you, do not be afraid.” Reluctantly, cautiously, I walked into the dark woods and left the bright sunlight behind me. I was instantly transformed back in time to when I first learned to talk to God. I would walk in these very woods with my two dogs along the same worn path every morning until I came upon this one particular spot where the sunlight would stream through a crack in the fir tree canopy. There I would stop, look up to the heavens and tell Jesus what was on my heart. That is where I gained strength to face every day. It seems like between that time and this very moment all I could feel was the weight of broken dreams. My heart became filled with sadness as memories of a difficult marriage, divorce, miscarriages, unsuccessful business, pain and loneliness rushed through my mind. I could feel the raw emotions of those heartaches so intensely it was as if they had just happened. I felt weak, worn out and defeated. The weight of all those disappointments seemed to weigh me down with such a huge heaviness. All of a sudden I was brought back to reality by the feeling of walking through spider webs. My skin began to crawl and I frantically tried to wipe the webs from my face and hair. As I continued on my leg brushed against a thistle and began to burn and itch. My senses were livened by all that surrounded me. I could smell damp moss warming as the sun filtered through the leaves of the wild Maples. The sounds of urban living were replaced with the creaking of giant fir trees swaying back and forth in the breeze. Conversation was replaced with the buzzing of insects and the chirping of birds. The only sound of a human was the crunching noise my footsteps made on the path covered by centuries of fir needles. Time and weather had changed the direction of the path many times over. Creating a maze that was unfamiliar and frightening to me. The deeper I went into the woods the darker it seemed to become. I started to see places where transients had camped; teens had hidden out drinking their father’s stolen liquor, abandoned old toys and rusty old tin cans. Fear and panic hit me again. Irrational thoughts took over. What if a rapist is lurking in the shadows and there I was the perfect helpless female victim? Memories of late night crime TV were running all kinds of disaster scenarios through my mind. The adrenaline rushing through my body raised my heart rate and I felt so alive. Then, I heard Gods voice again. “If you are scared, then run!” Hesitantly I began to jog. A task my bladder had kept me from doing until now. Pushing that worry aside, I picked up my pace. Now I was running. My muscles were straining from lack of use and my breathing became laborious. I started wondering how long I could realistically keep this up. Would God give me super strength in my legs if I needed to save my self? I have heard of that happening. How long before my heart just blows up or I simply pee my pants? As I ran I kept glancing behind me to see if anyone was following. I was running blindly forward not knowing where the path would take me. I was doing my best to dodge around and over fallen tree branches and other obstacles that could cause me to trip and fall. My attacker would surely catch me then! I wondered if anyone would hear me if I screamed? I ran for what seemed a very long time. But, in fact, as I checked my watch only 10 minutes had passed. As I came around a corner I began to recognize the trail. I saw the backyards of houses and neighborhood streets. I began to slow my pace down to a quick walk as I checked behind me once again. No one was there. As I turned my head back around I saw the clearing. Yeah! I made it! I felt a rush of relief come over me. Wow, I was breathing so hard, but I was ok. Amazingly, I felt good. I stopped to catch my breath as I turned back to face the dark forest I had just come out of. It didn’t feel so daunting now. I was safe there in the bright sunlight. I laughed out loud at myself. What a scardy cat, silly girl, I was! It reminded me of the times in my childhood when the boys my girlfriends and I played with in those woods would jump out from behind a bush and scare us. Just like I did today, we ran as fast as we could and as long as our lungs would let us. Then we would fall in a pile on top of each other laughing. I was feeling the freedom that young girl had. I was totally amazed that I was able to run like that. I had not done that in a very long time. I didn’t think I could.
I heard the Lord’s sweet voice again. It came in the form of being enlightened by what I had just happened. He was telling me…. “You are not the weak women you believe yourself to be. You have been living as if all your heartaches have defeated you. Your past does not define you. The sadness of your losses that you hang on to, are keeping you from enjoying your blessings. You do have the freedom of that innocent child you used to be. Build the life you desire. For I put that desire within you. Find your dreams again and pursue them. Life is not a burden, it is a gift. You do not have to earn it or repay me for it... It is given to you freely with my love. Press in and do not let Satan steal your joy from you. Your genuine happiness with the life I have given you will be my light to those I put in your path.”
Whoa, what a revelation! How could it be that simple? Why did I always want to make it so hard? Why did I never feel worthy of such a great love? No More. As tears of healing rain streamed down my face, I was reminded of the scripture that I had heard one of my favorite ministers, Joyce Meyers, quote from John 10:10 – “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance until it overflows.” Wow, he is an awesome God and a best friend. As I started the walk back home I was overwhelmed with what I had just gone through. But I felt at peace with myself for the first time. The sun warmed my shoulders and I felt God’s love pouring down on me. I felt strong in mind and spirit. A weight had been lifted off of me. I am glad I listened to the prodding’s of the holy spirit to put my tennis shoes on to go for a walk….. With God.