Unbalanced, Resting, and Free

Words Aptly Spoken“One of the favorite words in the Rule is ‘run.’ St. Benedict tells me to run to Christ. If I stop for a moment and consider what is being asked of me here, and what is involved in the act of running, I think of how when I run I place first one foot and then the other on the ground, that I let go of my balance for a second and then immediately recover it again. It is risky, this matter of running. By daring to lose my balance I keep it.” –Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction

I came across this quote this morning in the daily devotional I’ve been reading this year, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People, and it really made me think—especially when I put on my running shoes and took off for five and a half miles shortly after. I put the quote to the test, confirmed it was true, and made a few discoveries of my own to share with you.

When we run, we launch ourselves into the air with one foot then catch ourselves with the other. We don’t really think about this; we just do it. (No Nike reference intended.) But the launching is risky. It’s like singing a Capella for a moment, hoping that when the accompaniment starts again, we won’t have slipped off key for our audience to hear. If we don’t hold our feet just so while in the air, we’ll fall when gravity pulls us back to earth.

This means walking is safer. When we walk, one foot or the other is always in contact with the ground. (This is part of the definition of walk.) The motion is the same; we’re still pushing up with one foot while supporting ourselves with the other. But we never actually leave the ground.

So we have a choice to make. Walking is safer, but when we run, we enjoy a moment of freedom from the earth—we soar! And it’s in this moment of soaring that we rest!

That’s right. We rest. We rest while we run but never when we walk.

Most fascinating of all: those who’ve learned to run the fastest, rest the most. Have you ever watched an Olympic runner sprint? Their strides are longer than their heights. Those runners get air!

10-29-14 PostMe. My stride needs work—lots of little jumps. I’ve read that if I boldly allow myself to enjoy a longer stride, I’ll find myself running faster with less effort. That change will take courage because it will involve greater risk. My stride won’t lengthen until I trust myself more, until I stop believing that if I stay in the air too long I will fall.

This trust is what running through life with God is all about. God offers us freedom and rest, but we have to be willing to jump, to work on our stride. This will leave us feeling unbalanced at times, but it sets us free. It lets us rest. No worries about the future; it’s in God’s hands. No struggles to be met in our own strength, with only our own resources. Just confidence in the One Who’s leading us where He wants us to go, where, ultimately, He knows, we most want to be. This running is risky, but God won’t let us fall. He’s teaching us to trust Him, so we can run with Him for all eternity.

Father, please help us to run with confidence and strength. Set us free to enjoy life Your way. Enable us to rest in You. Amen.

Related Bible words: Hebrews 12:1, Isaiah 40:31, Proverbs 3:5-6Proverbs 3:26


Reflections on Reading for a Restful Day

Books!Well, I didn’t end up resting as much as I’d hoped yesterday, so I’m trying again today. Don’t worry, though! I have three blog posts wandering around in my head that I hope to move onto the computer screen next week in the form of a short series. I’ve been reading through Isaiah and am finding some serious words to ponder there!

I’m just playing today, though (while the washing machine does my laundry . . .) I found this fun quiz for book lovers at Books and Beverages. Since talking about reading is almost as much fun as reading itself, here are my answers:

What are your top three book pet hates?

  1. Finding folded corners in place of bookmarks
  2. Receiving a used book ordered on-line that was labeled Like New but looks like it’s been through the washer a few times
  3. Having books that are part of a series in different formats (hardback, paperback, digital) instead of all matched

Describe your perfect reading spot.
A comfy couch by a window with lots of sunshine coming through

Tell us three book confessions.

  1. When I was in high school, I folded corners instead of using bookmarks. (I’d seen somebody do that on TV. I don’t remember who it was, but she was a bad influence.)
  2. I don’t go to the library very often, but getting a new library card is always a top priority whenever I move to a new home. If I have access to a community’s library, I know I belong. (I wrote more about this in one of the devotionals in my book for women who move often, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway.)
  3. I love Kindle Freebies, but they are usually last priority on my TBR list. Books I’ve promised to review come first, then books I chose to purchase. This tends to be true even if the Kindle Freebie is one I would have purchased had I not found it for free.

When was the last time you cried during a book?
I was reading A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander. In one scene, a main character is forced to institutionalize her father who suffers from dementia, and he becomes angry and violent because of it. The injustice of the situation, the girl’s pure motives being so misunderstood by the one she was trying to help, broke my heart. I had to set the book down and come back to it on another day.

How many books are on your bedside table?
None. I have little piles of books-in-progress scattered all around the house, but there are none on my nightstand.

What is your favorite snack while you’re reading?
I rarely eat while I read. How would I turn the pages? I do drink coffee while I’m reading, though.

Name three books you would recommend to everyone.
Besides The Bible, I recommend Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. (That’s right! I did it! Just three!!!! If you want more recommendations, though, visit my GoodReads page.)

Show us a picture of your favorite bookshelf on your bookcase.
One shelf? One bookcase? I don’t understand the assignment.

Write how much books mean to you in just three words.
God. People. Books.

What is your biggest reading secret?
I have a carefully developed system for managing my TBR list and its sub-lists and for choosing which books to read when. It’s kind of like a food pyramid for my reading diet, existing to make sure I don’t ingest only dessert (Christian fiction) but read a little bit of everything I love: biographies, classics, Christian non-fiction, writing, and psychology.

  • How would you answer some of these questions? Any book confessions of your own to make? Feel free to leave comments about your own reading habits. I look forward to reading them!