Yesterday I felt the Spirit’s prompting to go on a trail run, my first one of 2019. It was a gray wintery day, and although it was approaching mid-afternoon, the sun had not made its grand appearance. I was in my home office with a lengthy to-do list, and it made more sense to stay and complete the list. I sat at my computer wavering, glancing at the window and back to my list. About ten minutes into my superb ambivalence, I decided the to-dos could wait, so I got dressed in my running gear and drove to Lory State Park.
When I trail run, I intentionally do not listen to music; instead, I tune into the sound of forest and pace with my breath. Trail running is my form of movement meditation, a sanction of time to check in with both my body and heart. Mindful of my recent soul wrestling in light of the new year, I was curious what path of thoughts would unfold while trekking up and down the rocks and dirt.
The air was cold and crisp; the hills stood tall with outbursts of rich green pine trees and tan bushes. The forest appeared nourished from the recent snow and the ice that padded the path. As I began my run, I quickly noticed myself adjacent to wilderness, my frame vulnerable to journey into the forest. With each step forward, I remained unaware of discovery ahead, enamored by the beauty and danger found in the wild. Frequently, I had to stop to walk, tiptoeing around the ice-laden rocks and mud. I paused to watch the sun peek through the clouds, dancing across Horsetooth Reservoir and Arthur’s Rock.
As I ran, I was aware of this month’s theme, desire, and what it had brought up. Questions had stirred, and my wee morning hours were spent pondering. Yet, every time I sat down to write, I had no words to frame my thoughts and feelings about desire. Now, I prayed to Jesus, “Where and how do you want to speak to me, here on this afternoon journey?” The running seemed to jar my body and heart from its place of being stuck.
I became aware of the covert fear to move toward desire, it would carry a hemorrhage of grief.
I feared that if I engaged the concept of desire, I could not handle the cresting wave of emotion. For too long I’ve deferred hope, dangling between the familiar possibility of everything going wrong and the impossibility of something beautiful actually going well. If I were to expose distant stories, scenes of the places where my heart shattered, others would see how they have shaped my lens that engages the world. Entering into 2019, these were the scribbled prayers in my journal: “Jesus help my unbelief; help me live into hope.”
As I was descending from my trail run, I bore witness to a stunning sunset beaming gold rays across the gray-purple hues of Authur’s Rock. I felt the glory of Jesus smile and bless me. As I turned to my right to glance one more time at Horsetooth Reservoir, I noticed a rusty nail laying on the boulder that lined the path. I quickly picked it up, for it reminded me of the bold love of Jesus and the trauma he endured on the cross so that I may have the chance to know freedom.
I cannot deny that there is a cost in choosing a life propelled by hope and spurred on by desire. Saying yes to places I’ve shelved hope is risky, but I’m willing to start to believe again, slowly inching my way into the opportunity of grace put before me by a loving Jesus.
In my journal I have a list labeled “things I desire but do not believe can actually happen.” This is where I will start. One by one I’ll begin, with the hope of desire, considering that goodness can and will happen. I’m grateful for the humble gift of a rusty nail: a symbol full of agony and expectation, the perfect reminder of brave desire.
Anna Smith is Co-Founder of Restore One and serves as an advisory board member. Restore One has opened The Anchor House, the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.