Monday, January 24, 2011

Trail Running - THE BIOME

Do you have memories of experiencing God in different "climates and geography"? Trail Running is a six week blog series looking at different environments we see Jesus face-to-face.  

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
- Ecclesiastes 3:1

In 1975, trail running was not a recognized sport. I was ten years old. My older brother George and his friend Jim allowed me to tag along as they climbed to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi river, Mt. Mitchell. Our intent was to hike the trail but for some reason found ourselves jogging to the top. I can recall being light on my feet hoping over and around rocks. It was my first go at trail running. Our intent was not a deliberate workout. We were simply being kids experiencing life to the fullest measure. Concern for a twisted ankle often entered my mind but I pressed on none-the-less.

Since that first day, I’ve collected memories of runs in the forest, down the beach, across the desert, over the tundra, and through the grasslands. Each biome I traveled demonstrates for me the expanse this world and life has to offer.

A biome is a large geographical area of distinctive plant and animal groups, which are adapted to that particular environment. The climate and geography of a region determines what type of biome can exist in that region. Each biome consists of many ecosystems whose communities have adapted to the small differences in climate and the environment inside the biome. World Biomes

Here is an interactive map of the world biomes for your use. Interactive Map

I can recollect my first encounter with God. I left the comfort of the luxury hotel I was staying and entered the adjacent wilderness. The landscape was a hillside of sage bushes with a smooth, narrow trail meandering in and through coniferous forest. The sun, fresh over the horizon, was warming the earth and me. I brought my petition before the Lord. What am I to do – stay where I am or return to Colorado? My skill set at discerning His voice was inadequate but what was clear, He was directing me, “Come to me.” Each step and breath I took I heard a new prompting, “This life is not about you and your pleasure.” “I will speak to you and through you to bring glory and honor to my name.” “Do not be dismayed, have courage, I am with you.” Although it took over nine months for me to respond to the message I heard that day, I could not question I was given a directive by God. It was not that He had particular concern for where I was to live but who I was to live it with – HIM. So, in my eventual decision to follow God, I was to begin the journey of leaving my past behind – to draw a line in the sand and go with Him. It was not a place but a person I was moving toward.  

Since that first day, I’ve collected memories of experiencing God in various “climates” and “geography.” Join me over the next five weeks as I explore some of the different wilderness landscapes in which we can experience God. We look to the wilderness experiences of the heroes in the Bible to guide us in our personal journey to know God. Like the various biomes some backwoods journeys are dry and void of life sustaining resources, others are moist and lush with resources but offer slippery rocks to twist an ankle on and still others provide level impact absorbing cushion. But, what is consistently true, it is in the wilderness we experience God and come to have life to the fullest measure.

Personal Reflection Questions:

  1. Recollect specific environments in which you have experienced God?
·        What was the “climate” of the experience: hopelessness, loneliness, disillusionment, discontent, discipline, other?
·        What was the “landscape” of the experience: school, work, family life, church, marriage, other?
  1. As we look to God for perspective, provision and peace it is helpful to discern the climate and landscape of the encounter so you know which hero in the Bible to study. Their journey offers us a guide demonstrating how we should expect to experience God (Ecclesiastes ). Can you recall seasons of you life that look like one of the following:
q Desert: dry and barren, a season void of support: people and resources, a place where temptation abounds.  
q Rain Forest: moist and lush, a season of prosperity: people and resources, a place where self-sufficiency and self reliance drown out a need to seek God.
q Beach: deep sand, a season unable to gain forward ground: waiting on the Lord, a place where continual personal striving and achievement prove to be pointless and unfulfilling.
q Grasslands: tall grass, a season of prey: persecution and condemnation, a place where predators lurk beyond the blades of tall grass and we need to rely of God for protection.
q Tundra: alpine serene meadow, a season of uncertainty: violent storm can overtake you in an instant, a place where everything appears lovely and safe but a storm lurks on the horizon to consume and overtake you.

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13


Do you have memories of experiencing God in different "climates and geography"? Trail Running is a six week blog series looking at different environments we see Jesus face-to-face.

THE RAINFOREST (coming next week)