the weblog of Alan Knox

Rocks and Roots and Leaves

Posted by on Dec 13, 2011 in discipleship | Comments Off

Rocks and Roots and Leaves

When you run on the roads or on the sidewalk, you pretty much know what to expect. Besides the occasional pothole or crack, the surface is fairly smooth. You can spend much of your time looking ahead, way down the path that you plan to run.

When you run on trails, things are completely different. Every step is susceptible to rocks and roots and leaves. Sometimes, you see these rocks and roots sticking up out of the dirt or peeking above the leaves. But, sometimes, they are hidden.

So, you have to watch every step carefully… extremely carefully… because any little rock or root can send you sprawling through the woods at full speed. (Remember, we’re running, not taking a stroll.) At the same time, you have to keep an eye (or, at least the occasional glance) at the trail to make sure that you don’t miss a turn.

But, rocks and roots are obvious, right? I mean, everyone expects rocks and roots to be dangerous. But leaves? Why are leaves dangerous while trail running?

In fact, leaves make the path more comfortable to run on. They cushion each step. It feels great to step on a patch of leaves after running over packed dirt, rocks, and roots. So, why would I say that leaves are dangerous?

The obvious answer would be that leaves make the path slippery, and that’s true. But, that’s not the main problem. The main problem is that while leaves make the path more comfortable, leaves also hide rocks and roots, as well as stick and other hazards.

A path that looks like a comfy and cushy pillow of leaves on the surface, could actually be strewn with sharp rocks, obtrusive roots, small stumps, and any number of other hazards. That which seems to make the path easier to run (leaves) actually ends up making the path more difficult.

Let me say that one more time: That which seems to make the path easier to run actually ends up making the path more difficult.

But, isn’t this just like life? I mean, we expect certain things in life (the rocks and roots) to be difficult, tricky, and dangerous. We know that there are financial, mental, emotional, vocational, spiritual, relational, and other types of risks that pop up throughout our lives. Most of the time, we see them coming, even if they are sudden.

However, the real dangers in life are those things that appear to make life more comfortable, easier, and even more enjoyable. When our steps seem to be falling with ease, we are in the most danger of tripping. When our decisions are leading to success after success, we are closest to failing. We our relationships are strongest, we are most likely to be hurt.

What’s the spiritual lesson here? Be watchful. Be diligent. Pay attention.

Even when – especially when – things seem to be going smooth.


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