Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Saturday, January 7, 2012

On a dark, desolate road... never know what you might encounter when you're running.

Sometimes it's amazing how God blesses us and intervenes in our daily walk. Yesterday was one of those days when I certainly received a blessing. A near disastrous encounter with a little local wildlife was averted only by the grace of God.

My work schedule, and the fact that I'm much more of a morning person than any other kind of person, makes it so that most of my running is done early, early in the morning. I mean before daylight early. In fact, my weekday runs are usually started and completed long before the sun comes up.

That puts me on the road with all sorts of nature's nocturnal creatures. Today I met one of those furry fiends on a cold, dark, and otherwise lonely road. My five-mile run carried me through several such areas and a few brighter neighborhoods. But just short of the four-mile mark, near the top of a long but not too steep incline, things got quite interesting for a second.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" -- Jeremiah 29:11

Interesting because the Good Lord stepped in and kept a little furry fellow from deploying his natural defense system.

After nearly four-miles running in the cold and dark, near the top of a somewhat long hill and in one of darkest spots along my route, I spotted the silhouette of something small and black in the middle of the road. On these desolate stretches, I usually run along the center line of the road to take advantage of the most level part of the pavement. So, the unidentified small dark object was located right smack dab in the middle of my path.

It resembled a dark colored piece of lifeless trash, not something that sparked fear or even the slightest hint of alarm. I resolved to steer myself around it. More of a sidestep than a detour was my plan.

As I came to within about three feet of the unmoving dark mass, I stepped to the left. That's when the black bundle came to life, taking flight in a sprint to the right side of the road. My eyes locked onto the dark creature that just caused my heart to skip a beat and what I saw revealed just how fortunate I was.

Even though it was quite dark, I could make out the profile of the animal against distant lights. Tail raised, back slightly arched, and seeming to hobble more than run, I quickly recognized the four-legged fiend that had occupied my path only a moment before. One of the most dreaded of all animals to encounter, not because it's vicious, not because of the sharpness of its teeth or claws, but because of the natural defense system God blessed it with.

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." -- Psalm 23:4

It chose to take flight rather than use what God gave it to defend against its adversaries. The only explanation I can come up with is that Jesus Christ intervened, stopping the skunk from using its natural defense, stopping it from turning me into a smelly, stinking victim of its spray.

Thank you Jesus!

If I had been dosed with the skunk's perfume, the last mile and more may have been the most miserable I've ever run. I'm certain my wife would have awakened and run me out of the house on my return. My daughter would definitely not have enjoyed riding to school with me. And I doubt my students would have learned much math while they held their noses and found any reason they could think of to leave my class.

Luckily, neither I nor any of them had to endure the stench of skunk today because Jesus intervened and saved me from what could have been, maybe even should have been, disaster!

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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