There’s two truths I’d like to share with you about today’s workout. First, “hill repeats” always sound like a great idea to me the night before the actual workout, and second, every time I reach the top of one of those hills, I always hear the same voice in the back of my mind. Maybe some of you hear that voice too? More on that in just a minute….
The run today was pretty straight forward. One and a half miles, easy pace, to the bottom of the hill on Brandywine Road. Then four times running up from the bottom about a quarter mile to the stop sign about half-way back up Brandywine. Then loop around along Westfield Road, Sterling Road, and Wellesley Avenue back to the Cornwell Center for another two miles. All told, the plan was estimated to be a little over five miles! At one point, during the second or third hill repeat, I looked over at Zoe Brennan (who was running beside me) and said “Who thinks up these crazy workouts!”
They always seem like a good idea the night before!
But there’s great significance in getting to the top of the hill, isn’t there? Militarily speaking, most times the best tactical position is the hill top. When the rain storms are coming, best to be on higher ground. And when my chickens go UP to roost at night, they go up the ramp into the hen house, to the safety about five to six feet above ground. They do that instinctively to stay away from any predators who might be after them when the sun goes down.
I was having a conversation with a co-worker several months back. The gentleman happens to be Indian and he’s also Christian. In his native country, Christians represent less than 3% of the population. Now in India, that can still be millions of people, but relatively speaking, it’s low compared to other religions in his country like Muslim and Hindu. In India, he’s had to be somewhat reserved about his faith, but here in America, he doesn’t feel as restrained. We were having a one-on-one conversation about nothing in particular one day after everyone else had left the conference room and the meeting had ended. I think I was complaining about a hill repeats workout that day too, in all honestly!
My friend said, “Mike do you recall that piece of scripture that talks about higher ground?”
“No”, I said. “What is that?”
He then referenced me to the Book of Psalms:
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
2 from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
3 for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy. (Psalm 61:1-3)
The “rock” in this passage is often times translated to “mountain”.
Lead me to the mountain, perhaps, that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. That’s my translation.
Today’s workout is proof that it’s challenging many times to get to that higher ground. But I know that higher ground …. that rock …. is a place of safety in more ways than one.
Where do we turn to when we need safety? The higher ground. We look to the heavens, for safety, for guidance, for forgiveness, for refuge.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the second part of my opening paragraph? What’s the voice I hear in the back of my mind?
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter to with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Dr. Martin Luther King also talked about climbing mountains, didn’t he? That’s the voice I hear.
So we not only climb mountains to reach safety, but, as explained by Dr. King, we climb mountains in order to get a glimpse of what’s on the other side.
So the next time you’re doing hill repeats, whether it’s with me and the Wednesday morning run group, with others, or all alone, think about what salvation comes when you get to the top…..and when you get to the other side.
My prayer this week for us to have the courage to start that climb, the strength to get to the top, the vision to see what’s on the other side. For in doing so, we might all get to see the glory of the coming of the Lord!