I wrote this in November 2007, only days after losing a city-wide election following 12 years of public service. I recently rediscovered this while studying to teach John 13.
I met my daughter Katie for lunch in Arlington, and then drove to White Rock Lake in Dallas to run … something I’d looked forward to for days. Being on that trail was so pleasant, I wondered if I’d enjoy it as much if I lived in Dallas and could run there all the time. I don’t know, but this run, only one day after I lost a citywide election bringing this phase of my government life to an end, felt like coming home. It felt like the future. It felt like what’s next.
The trail around the lake was a soothing salve: the solitude; the familiarity; the chance to use my legs for fun instead of campaigning; the unfamiliarity and uniqueness of the surrounding neighborhoods; the anticipation of knowing I’d run here again someday soon; the close scheduling required to squeeze this indulgence into my busy day; the smugness I felt from knowing about a great place to run on dirt even in the big city; the winding path through trees and alongside the lake; the cool air that was brisk enough to refresh but warm enough for T-shirt and shorts; the way my knees felt good, hinting that the future might be OK; the soothing voices from my iPod – first a podcast about running and then another by Erwin McManus about our calling as Christians to engage with society; the brilliant blue North Texas sky: the shared sense of purpose I got from other runners on the path even though we said nothing more than “Hi” as we passed each other; the arrows and race markings painted on the asphalt trail that reminded me of my many years of making the same marks for my own races; the irony – not the right word, the appropriateness – of running on an urban trail at the end of this political era and remembering the unmistakable call to public life I heard while running on a different urban trail on a similarly bright cloudless day, March 21, 1987 to be exact, in Washington Park in Denver.
John 15:2 says, “Every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful;” an important concept to grasp when I’m in the middle of a pruning project.
On the trail I thought about my satisfaction of knowing how much Cyndi believes in me; and knowing how jealous she’ll be that she isn’t here with me on this trail today; the confidence I get from our shared passions for running and teaching and giving our lives away; the anticipation of more opportunities to teach in my church in the coming months now that the campaign is over; the luxury of being able to run and workout and exercise – I’m blessed with the physical ability to do this and the discretionary time to devote to something so selfish; the freedom that fitness brings, as Cyndi so often reminds; the songs that played on my iPod following the podcasts that reminded me of the future and my desire to live a life less ordinary; the dreams of writing and publishing and sharing my heart in print; the shady cool contagious parts of the trail that wind through the trees into a different world and a different time; the sunny parts of the trail beside the lake where the lapping waves sound so exotic to my West Texas ears;
Running on the White Rock trail reinforced my curiosity for adventures God has for us in the future, just around the bend and out of site; the thought that I can wear casual clothes every day now that I don’t have constituents to reassure; the wonder at where the weight of my life should be applied from now on; the thought that even the phrase “from now on” doesn’t make as much sense to me as it used to since I’ve learned to expect regular adjustments to my perfect plans; that I don’t anticipate anything I’m doing today to last “from now on.”
I read in John 13 about a time when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and asked, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” I wrote in the margin of my Bible: “Almost never.” In my life, I seldom understand what Jesus has done for me in real time; only later when I look back can I hope to understand the significance.“
I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32