by Michelle Welch
“When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!”
Psalm 94:18-19 (NIV)
This holiday season has been especially difficult for me. Family responsibilities, the stress of separation due to job duties, and the anniversary of a particularly painful family crisis have combined to create the perfect storm of emotional upheaval.
As I left the warmth of my house for my morning run, the frigid temperatures only increased my bad mood. Even on the best of days, I have to talk myself into getting out of my pajamas to exercise. I can easily be persuaded to forgo running, opting instead for a leisurely cup of coffee or two—or five.
At mile one, there was some serious whining going on in my head. My nose was frozen, and my knees were hurting. Mile two came and went with the promise to myself that I would just stop at 3.1 miles, the amount of the 5K which I was due to run that weekend. As I approached the “adjusted” goal, God whispered, “Just a few steps more.” Really God? Why? Do I have to? I felt like one of my toddler grandchildren and could feel myself heading for a full-blown meltdown tantrum right there on the running trail.
Up ahead of me, there was a bend in the trail. I reasoned that I could turn around at that point and walk the rest of the “run.” My steps slowed to what could be easily defined as a shuffle, when a flash of white caught my eye. Before me was a swan slowly moving through the ditch that runs alongside the path. His graceful movements were mesmerizing.
To say that swans are rare around here is an understatement. I stood for a long time, totally immersed in the unadorned beauty that God had placed in my path. Other runners joined me as we paused to watch this noble creature. In that moment, I felt my Father’s love wrap around my heart, easing my anxious thoughts.
The words of Philippians 4:8-9 came flooding into my mind. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
After what seemed like an eternity, I turned to finish my run. My steps were lighter, my heart full. How quickly I forget that my Father in Heaven wants me to experience peace instead of chaos. His love and mercy for me are endless. He will always be there to comfort me. Even if it means placing a swan in the middle of a drainage ditch to get my attention.
Dearest Father God, I am on my knees in gratitude this morning. I am in awe of Your overwhelming love, especially when I am undeserving of all that You give me. Thank You my Adonai for simple reminders. For the beauty of nature. For all that You have created to bring me joy. I pray that I might listen more and complain less. Teach me to seek after the things in life that bring honor and glory to Your Holy Name. In Christ I pray this morning, Amen.
Copyright ©Michelle Welch, all rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™