Wednesday, October 27, 2010

so...i need new running sneakers. ask anyone who has seen me running, or who has seen me getting ready to go running, or has gone running with's clear. and it's been clear for oh, at least a year. the tattered brown "champion" shoes that i run in were never intended to be running shoes in the first place. when i purchased them quite a few years ago i simply wanted a "classy sneaker" instead of a chunky running shoe - because i did not EVER see myself as one taking up the running hobby. as i started this new college adventure however, i slowly began to recognize what a joy running is. what wonderful stress relief it is! not to mention peaceful and beautiful and life-giving.

as i began to run more and more times a week, for further and further distances, my shoes quite obviously became excessively tattered with each additional mile. i'm not big on spending money however, and i never was a girl who loved to buy shoes, so putting off the decision to buy new shoes was never a difficult one to make. and at this point, these shoes have been with me for so long, we've been through so much together, so many adventures we have shared!- how could i just toss them to the wind? but today as i ran i looked at those sneakers i pulled them over my feet for another brisk run i again noticed the lack of rubber between my socks and the ground, i tied the laces fraying at the end and glanced at the little (little may be a relative term...) holes growing on the outside of either though my feet themselves are defiantly digging their way out of the poor little brown shoes, deciding on their own that running barefoot would be better than foolishly tricking myself into thinking that my feet are protected. and as i ran my usual loop, more than once i whimpered as i felt a sharp stone digging into the ball of my right foot. (this has become such a problem that my foot continues to hurt for a day or so after a run with too many stones in the path of my right foot...) to anyone else it is apparent, i need new shoes. i need to stop making excuses and let these little guys go - for they are of no use to me and in fact often bring me more pain than anything...

but... this post is about more than running shoes. these thoughts don't end with my realization that i need to make a sacrifice and shell out some money for some good shoes so that i can continue running and not hurt myself, possibly hindering my running future unknowingly. in fact, this trail of seemingly irrelevant thoughts are ironically quite relevant to our relationship with God and this never-ending adventure that we find ourselves in. let me explain . . .

this morning i read this verse:

"Teach me our way, O Lord,
and i will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that i may fear your name."
Psalm 86:11

that 3rd line gets me: "give me an undivided heart" as i consider what that might mean i picture myself standing before God grasping onto my ancient brown sneakers. i see my stubborn heart, my heart unwilling to release my grip on certain things in my life, too afraid of losing the comfort or the pleasure that things bring me. i hear my voice making excuses, oh so many excuses! 

and you know what's ridiculous? the things we often hold onto are NOT helping us, they are not bringing us joy or life by any stretch of the imagination - and in fact they are hurting us, just like my tattered sneakers. and what's even crazier... is that our defiant act of holding onto things, refusing to sacrifice and let go causes God even greater pain. and that hurts my heart. that blows my mind. and yet... it's so easy to continue to hold our little brown sneakers tightly to our chest like rebellious children. it's easy to cling to them, to their memories, to their comfort, to their familiarity. it's much harder to lay them down and pick up whatever it is God intends for us to have. when we're holding our old sneakers it's rather difficult to realize that God wants to offer us something far greater, something that will enable us to continue running farther and more gloriously than before. He's dying to offer us a brand new pair of sneakers that will support and comfort and help us, and yet so often we just settle for sore feet because it's easier. it's more convenient. it's safe. . . (or so we think) 

so i've had this picture of an open hand before God in my head recently. it is so fitting. it's what i long for. a hand open before God acknowledging that everything i have has been given to me. acknowledging that everything given to me is simply on loan, and i must learn to be a good steward of it. an open hand that offers every part of me up to God, not just the parts i want to. an open hand recognizing the fact that God gives and takes away, and that's ok. an open hand that offers generously what i have been given, to others. living with open hands before God, this is what i long for. 

a heart undivided, a hand open. 

daily it is a task of untying our sneakers and laying them before God - recognizing and trusting that what he has to offer us is far greater. it's laying down of my plans, my dreams, my hopes, my desires, my worries, my doubts, my fears, my inadequacies, my sins, my relationships, my life...knowing that in Him i can trust. 

so here's to running with a lighter step and a joyful song, because with God my feet are secure. 


  1. This was fantabulous! And I wear holes in my running shoes too...

  2. Ashley, the whole time I was reading this I was thinking of that Jason Upton song! And then as I got to the end I realized you clearly must have listened to it a bit before writing this post as well :) He's definitely one of my faves. . . oh sister how I miss you and can't WAIT to see you at Thanksgiving! Keep writing my dear, your words are always so encouraging and life-giving

  3. Hey ash just read your blogs or what ever you call them wow good stuff your fellow gardener from pa