I can say without hesitation that I am a runner. I am a prayer-er as well. When it comes to the skill of listening, I think I fall short. Except one day. Back in Ohio…on a running trail at The Sugarcreek Reserve — 15,000 acres of forests, grasslands, farmlands and wetlands located in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio.
I’m going to tell you the story of the day I was running, and praying…and listening. I was living in Dayton, Ohio and attended the Far Hills Community Church. I was shell-shocked from a divorce that left me depressed, sad and worried about the future. One Sunday morning after a church service, I asked the Pastor of the Church to advise me…hoping he would have some kind of magical words. I imagine his advice to me is going to sound really, really strange to you. It sounded very strange to me!
He listened to me tearfully tell of the heart-ache of divorce and my fears and worries about the future…which looked very dismal in my mind at the time. He said something about a field and some locusts and the field being renewed…or something like that. It sounded good at the time. He also gave me homework. He told me to stay out of the dating arena for a while to recover…and told me to DATE GOD. He told me to date God and fall in love with Him. In my mind I’m giggling and I’m all like okay sure thing…whatever.
Fast-forward to the inside of my brain later that day on the running trail at Sugarcreek Reserve. Sugarcreek was the place I went to alone often…to walk, run and take photos. Sometimes I went with friends or my daughters but many times I went alone, just to be in that space…surrounded by trees, sky, birds, grass and mmmmmmm. It was a sacred place to me. I liked running on the 3 mile green trail. As I was running alone that Sunday afternoon, all I heard was the sound of birds, the rustling of the leaves and the sound of my own breath and Nike’s hitting the trail.
While I ran and stayed focused on watching where I ran so as not to trip on a tree root or large rock, I prayed. It went something like this:
Hey God, it’s me. I guess it’s okay to pray while I’m running, right. You can hear me…I just have a feeling you can. So. What’s this deal about dating you? I kind of get falling in love with because you created me and I kind of owe you that… but dating you. Really? That’s ridiculous. You can’t date someone you can’t see. I can’t really go on a date with you. You aren’t going to call me and ask me to dinner, pick me up and take me out. You’re God. You’re not a guy. You’ll never show up at my front door with a bouquet of flowers. (Insert kind of arrogant attitude here.)
Now remember, as I’m telling you this story, I was running the whole time. I never stopped. The following happened as I was running.
Just then, and it happened so fast I didn’t have time to process it, something totally other-worldly floated, floated spinning…this tree or flower bud…a spiralling, spinning, moving, amazing…beautiful, multi-colored, yet white and see-through…like a crystal but light and delicate like a flower petal or tree bud. Really I’m having trouble describing what it looked like. But the point is…it GOT MY ATTENTION. Here’s what the conversation sounded like.
Um. WOW. God. I get it. I just told you I can’t date you because you’ll never show up at my front door with a bouquet of flowers and you show up and freaking AMAZE me with this incredible floating, flower-like thing…AMAZING. You’re amazing God. Thank you.
That is not the end of the story. The beautiful flower-like thingy was amazing…it felt like a miracle to me. It’s very personal and you may not think it’s a big deal. But to me, it spoke to my heart and I had no doubt he was talking to me through that beautiful floating flower. It was like He said “Oh, I can bring you flowers. You have no idea.”
If you’ve ever been to Sugarcreek Reserve, you know that there are twists and turns to the trail and sometimes around the corner you will come across a huge meadow of flowers. That is exactly what happened. As I ran, praying-ish, I rounded a corner and came upon a huge field of multi-colored flowers. It was stunning. The colors looked more vivid than I’d ever seen them. My heart was beating faster and I was flushed…not just because I was running. The Creator of the Universe, the ONE who set the stars in the sky…was talking to me. He was courting me. Oh yes. He brought me flowers…an entire field of them…vivid, gorgeous, in all of their glory…outshining every bouquet of flowers I’ve ever received.
The Creator of the moon and the stars, the mountains and the seas…all of the creatures and all of the flowers…was asking me to fall in love with Him.
And that is the end of my story. I fell in love…with Him. And yes, we are still dating.