Yesterday, as I was running on the treadmill at the gym, the reality of my multitasking fast hit me with new urgency. How was I going to run three miles without the distraction of my iPod or at least reading the closed captioning on the hanging television sets?
I spent the first mile happy with this new discipline while I prayed for friends and meditated on what God has been teaching me. Mile two found me alternately praying, drinking from my water bottle, gasping for air, checking my mileage, praying, and so on. By mile 2.5, I was thinking of all the reasons I should go ahead and stop running.
In the minute or two just before my self-discipline ran completely dry, I resorted to a mental exercise I often default to in physical stress. I pictured myself back on the gravel track that surrounded the football field of my highschool. The gravel track where I first understood what it meant to subject myself to physical training that is of “some value,” as Paul would say.
Many times in the years since I graduated I have “thought” my way back to that quarter-mile loop and counted down the laps to my goal. Even yesterday, with a half-mile left to run, I started just outside of the 50 yard line and headed south in the counter-clockwise fashion in which a track is always traversed. As the odometer on the treadmill counted down the hundredths of miles, I pictured myself moving around the track. One lap, then finally, two. And once again, that old gravel track in my memory, which has long since been paved in real life, helped me through a challenging time.
That’s what this wilderness experience of ours will do for us someday. Right now, the wilderness you are walking through may seem like too much. You might be minutes away from giving up. But somewhere in the back of your mind, there’s another wilderness season from your past in which you made it, where you found Jesus even through the dryness and darkness. And that wilderness in your mind will help you get through the wilderness you are experiencing now.
And someday, this wilderness of today will do the same for the wilderness of tomorrow.
I remember the days of long ago . . . Psalm 143:5