There is a paved trail by my house that stretches just over 4 miles, where it connects with another 8 mile trail. It’s one of the highlights of the area we live in. Trees extend on both sides along most of the path. It also passes by a small lake, shimmering in the summer and a beautiful sheet of ice in winter. For a city trail, it is a nice separation from the busy streets, noisy cars and neighbourhoods. Seagulls and crows soar freely overhead. The path is enjoyed by all sorts of people: dog owners, runners, skateboarders, roller bladers, parents with strollers, kids on scooters, cyclists.
The funny thing about this trail, is that there is one man I see every time I venture onto it. His grey hair always pulled back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck, a dark oversized jacket hangs over a pair of loose-fitting jeans, his feet kept warm in a pair of hiking boots. Whether it is Tuesday morning or Saturday afternoon, or anytime in between, I find this man on the path. It boggles my mind; how long does he walk? How many times a day? Where does he go? I always greet him with a smile and a “Hello!”. He always smiles back, quietly, and continues on his way. And I continue on mine.
I have come to believe in a God who offers a relationship much like this trail, this mysterious walking man. He is always there, ready to meet us. We need only go to that place.
“The Lord is near to all who call on him.” (Psalms 145:18)
I don’t know what that place is for you. I am only beginning to understand what that place is for me. It is a place of stillness, of solitude. Sometimes physically, sometimes of the heart. I might be stirring the soup, heating up the biscuits, pouring more cooked peas on my toddler’s tray, but I can still go to this place. My heart can quiet, can open, take notice, hear.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
There is an elderly lady I have passed sometimes on the trail. She must walk there every morning on her way to work. Her long skirt extending down to her shins, tiny ankles poking out of her black high heeled dress shoes, a large purse slung over her shoulder. Her steps are small but quick. She marches with intent.
And this is the faith I want to have. One that is constant, steady, purposeful. I have decided to believe, even in the presence of doubt, of this God who is always near. I carry my doubts with me, like baggage over my shoulder. They are part of me but I have stopped letting them slow me down.
So let us come near to God with an honest and true heart. Let us come near with a faith that is sure and strong.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Even with doubt, I am free to walk towards this relationship being offered to me. Run, even. Why wouldn’t I?
I crave this place.
“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” (Psalms 42:1-2)
I want to go there more. To this place of intimate communion with the One who made me. Where all good things are offered to me – “the desires of my heart”. Perfect love, perfect peace. Where all of the other voices fade away, save for His. Where all distractions I leave behind, to come close to Him. My heart, searching for His. And His heart, piercing mine.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If any of you hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with you. And you will eat with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Want to join me on that trail? There is more than enough room for all.