The Red Dodge and The National Forests

So this will be my last running, athletic reference, thought for a while, I promise. Today, I was late getting up. Just a few minutes, maybe 10 or so, but it threw me way behind. My objective each day is to be back by the time my youngest is leaving for school. I want to give him a hug or a fist bump, tell him I love him and watch him drive down our street. It’s just something in me I need to do whenever I am at home.

I don’t remember a whole lot from when I was little, bits and pieces. Things come back to me in certain situations or conversations, times when God wants things to be revealed. I remember camping as a family. We would pack the station wagon and go. Mom cooked on a Coleman stove, dad drove and pitched the tent. We went to all the national landmarks and forests, for us kids it was good stuff. I know even back then dad was bad to drink and mom had to deal with that, but I don’t remember much about all that. Just that the adventures and places we went were amazing.

There was a time in the 4th grade our school had a contest to write a story, the best story would win $5. I wrote a fiction story on the last man surviving on the earth and won the contest. I was awarded the money and the story was read in front of the whole school. I had never experienced accolades like that before.

In the 5th grade I remember that our physical education teacher had our whole class out on the track and told us we were going to run for the school record 100 yard dash. I was not much of an athlete but when the starting whistle blew I took off. I passed everyone and moved to the front. I lead the race and won. During the race, as I was running I thought “I am leading, no rush. I’m leading and I will win easy.” I did win and I am not sure where it came from. But I did not beat the school record, I was just seconds away.

I share all these things as God reveals to me, as I piece together why I am the way I am and why I do the things I do. Take the mountains and camping for instance. I really enjoy being in the mountains, visiting the National Parks, the cool air and the wooden signs engraved with their names. I truly believe that my experiences as kid are why I am drawn there. Why I move into a place in my heart up there that at 55 I don’t find many places.

Writing that story. It would be 20 years before I picked up a pen and wrote another anything. Now I am a prolific writer and the joy of storytelling is something I hold close and hunger for. I did not go to journalism school. As a matter of fact, I dropped out of school in the 9th grade. But God had a plan way back when.

That race, missing it by seconds. I have thought about it many times, if I had just pushed a little harder, for just a few seconds, I would have done it. I think that drive to make up for the seconds I missed has keep me up late working into the night or pushing to a mountain top when I just did not think I could take one more step.

My daily run takes me 50 minutes to an hour. Today I had about 40 minutes until my son got into his truck. I ran a bit faster knowing that. I kept thinking if I just step it up, go a little farther and skip my usual cool down walk I will make it. I did not want to see the taillights of his truck headed down the street and miss him, not even one day. As I rounded the bend in our street I could see through the mesquite trees a bit of red, then more red. It was his truck. I did it. I beat the school record.

Over the last few years Jesus has been revealing to me who I am and where my life came from. So many things I agreed to that were lies, like a 9th grade drop-out can’t do anything with his life. That my father’s alcoholism destroyed my life. That a family can never really love each other through the hardest things. That God won’t ever use me, that I am not worthy. All lies from an evil, fallen and despondent angel.

Listen for God to speak. Know that a relationship with Him will bring you to a place nothing else can offer. You are important, you do matter, your past hardships and trials were training for you, your perfect ministry to others. Only you can tell your story, only you can tell how God has taken your brokenness and turned it to His good. That’s what He does when we go to Him, invite Him into our lives. It’s friggin cool.

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