the weblog of Alan Knox

Meeting other people on the journey

Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in discipleship | 4 comments

Meeting other people on the journey

Where I live, trail running is fairly popular. When we were running through the woods, we crossed paths with other runners who were also running the trails. Most of them were running in the opposite direction from us. Others passed us, or we passed them.

We also met other people who were hiking the trails. The trails that we were running stretch from the mountains of western North Carolina to the beaches of the Outer Banks on the Atlantic Coast. Of course, we only ran a few miles of the 1000+ mile trail system. So, there were local people hiking the trail, and there were backpackers walking from one end of the trail to the other.

The part of the trail that we ran runs near Falls Lake, but it also runs near some subdivisions and homes. Several times, we passed local residents who were out for a morning stroll or who were walking their dogs near their homes (which just happened to be near the trails).

Other runners, hikers, nearby homeowners… we shared the trail with all of these people, but we were all on the trails for different reasons, sometimes even headed in different direction. (In fact, some of the people were not really headed in any direction at all.)

But, even though we were part of different groups and moving in different directions or at different paces, we were not opponents on the trail. Though we may have been tackling the obstacles in different ways and though we may have had different goals, we were able to share the same trail without attempting to force others to change to our ways (or running or pace or direction or whatever).

We were all willing to share the trail with one another – even though those others were different and doing different things.

At times, we moved to one side to allow others to pass by. At other times, other people stepped to one side so that we could run by them. Sometimes, the trail was wide enough for all of us to pass each other safely without stopping.

We did not feel threatened that other people were running on our trail (and in a different way!). We knew what we were there to do, and that’s what we were doing. We even cheered the others on their way, and they often cheered for us as well.

What a difference it would make if the church acted like this. Could you imagine if different sectors of the church (because there are different sectors, even if there shouldn’t be) would cheer each other on instead of bashing each other? Wouldn’t it be incredible if we accepted one another in spite of our differences and tried to help or encourage one another instead of running each other down or tripping each other up.

You know, the weird thing is that none of those other people on the trail – even those who were running the opposite direction – tried to trip me as I ran past. In fact, I honestly think that if I had fallen while running past one of them, they would have offered a hand to help me up.

How much different it is with the church… a group of people that are supposed to be known for their love for one another.

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Spiritual Lessons from Trail Running

  1. Introduction: Spiritual Lessons from Trail Running
  2. Rocks and Roots and Leaves
  3. Leading from the front; leading from behind
  4. It’s a long, hard road, but we’re running it together
  5. Meeting other people on the journey
  6. The Destination, the Journey, and Everything In Between
  7. Look at your feet; look at the path; look further ahead

4 Comments

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  1. 12-16-2011

    I wonder if we aren’t more like this in the church than we think. We are all running in different directions. We might give a passing greeting but we never really stop and get to know one another. Trail running is not an activity designed to foster relationships. Often it seems that “church” is not either.

  2. 12-16-2011

    Great post!

    You were all on the trail for love of and passion for the trail.

    All who are in Christ are following Him for love of and passion for Him.

  3. 12-16-2011

    I can see this in other areas of life. Avid runner, hikers, astronomers, corvette owners, etc., all feel a connection with each other, and that connection is their enthusiasm for the common interest. With only a few exceptions, I just don’t see all that much enthusiasm for Christ in the church, and one of the results is that there are few strong connections made.

  4. 12-17-2011

    Arthur, Hutch, and Chris,

    Thanks for the comments. Believe it or not, trail running can be an extremely social activity.

    -Alan