The heat is heavy - like a blanket you can't crawl out from under. It runs in front of you and pushes in behind you and squeezes on all sides. The heat is heavy these days. A few weeks ago, I was haphazardly training for the 4 mile trail run I ran with my family this past Saturday. The Coast Guard Trail Run is not just any 7K race - it involves dunes and trails and an enormous amount of steps that take you to the top of a dune where you can see Lake Michigan touch the horizon. It was worth every step and much more fun when you have matching shirts that say "Nichols family running team."
But back to my training.
The heat seemed to suck all the smart out of me in those days leading up to the race. I kept deciding to run in the middle of the afternoon when the heat was most oppressive. Running isn't something I plan around in my day... it's something that happens when the window appears. It may be at 5 pm or 3 pm or 9:30 pm, but rarely if ever at 7 am (which of course is the coolest time of the day).
After about a mile on a 100 degree day around 3:30 pm, I had that familiar thought, "This might not end well." The heat was getting into my throat and my legs were resisting the steady movement pounding the paved path. It was like my lungs knew things were about to get desperate. Good thing I had mapped out where all the water was on my route, because I don't think I would have made it without the rusty fountain in O'Neil Park. Right about that time I realized how far I was from my front door and how long it would take to get back there.
I devised a survival technique called "run the suns, walk the shades." I would sprint through the sunny parts of the trail and slow to a walk where the shade hovered over the sidewalk. As I made my way home in this pattern, I thought of G.K. Chesterton and Moses.
I know what you are thinking - I was delirious. This very well may have been true. But, I've since drank lots of water and slept many nights and the thought remains. Though Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to listen to the Lord, he did not sit down across the table to have afternoon tea. It was a frightfully powerful experience. When Moses wanted to see God, he was told to hide in a cave while the Lord passed by. An ordinary encounter is the farthest thing from God's powerful presence. In Chesterton's book, "The Man Who Was Thursday" we see glimpses (the backside) of the Sunday character (God). This character is meant (I think) to be the sovereign part of God and we cannot bear the weight of it.
Because the sun is too strong. Humans have a heat threshold and when we reach it, our bodies can't function anymore. There is a point where the heat jumping from the sun is too much for our skin and our head and our lungs. The sun is too strong.
If the power of the Lord unleashed, our eyes could not bear it. Our lungs could not breathe the weight of glory that He would display in His fullness. Even a glimpse would lay us out flatter than the most intense heat exhaustion.
And I felt the power of the sun as I raced to the shade. I'm a very steady kind of grateful because though the Lord could lay us all out flat with the weight of His glory, He gives shade. He provides covering in Christ that allows us to stand now in front of the Lord redeemed and under His shade until He returns.
That's a mysterious combination of glory and grace and it makes me want to
let LOVE fly like cRaZy