"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Staying On Track


By Micky Wolf



Of recent weeks, I have reacquainted myself with the treadmill. I make no bones about it—disciplining myself to return to a regular exercising routine has come about more out of necessity than an avid desire to hone this older body into firmly defined hills and valleys of sinew and muscle. Suffice it to say the image is more of soft, rolling knolls amidst pale mounds of shifting sands. 

My first couple attempts were downright depressing. It wasn’t enough various parts of my body were murmuring—in some cases fairly screaming—their disapproval of being asked to move in certain ways. I was also thinking about all the other more fun things [well, for me] that I could be doing: writing, reading one of the new books on my desk, perusing emails, being with a friend, preparing dinner. Aware of my renewed commitment, my kind and considerate husband placed a CD player near the treadmill. I have accumulated an eclectic group of musicians who make excellent plodding along companions—except on the first afternoon the equipment seemed to have its own mind, remaining mostly quiet. Oh, for Pete’s sake!

The next day, and with sound system working, cascades of lovely notes issued forth. The thump, thump, thumping along of my sneakers provided a suitable if noisy accompaniment. Beginning to get lost in the music and random pieces of thoughts, I suddenly remembered—glancing down, barely a moment too late, the front of my right sneaker bumped the protective shield over the motor. Jolted but still upright, I quickly realigned my steps. Whew, that was a close one. How embarrassing to have to explain an athletic injury was due to stumbling sideways off the track because I had not been paying close enough attention where I was striding on the moving belt.

With that little God-moment, my remaining walking time seemed a step by step lesson in the Spirit with regard to our life journey beginning with our choice to walk the straight and narrow path rather than one so smooth and wide. 

The gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
Narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.
[Matthew 7:13-14]

God does not want us staring endlessly at the ground beneath our feet. What He does hope for is that in our choosing the narrow path that leads to life, we will stay alert, occasionally glancing at our surroundings. A quick observation is often all it takes to maintain our footing. We might associate this with taking time for reflection, checking in with God to make sure we are allowing Him to show us any potential potholes or obstacles that may be threatening to trip us up along the way.

They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.
[Isaiah 40:31]

Pacing and timing are crucial. Not too fast, not too slow. In our humanness we tend to be eager or lackadaisical. Tempo and rhythm, in harmony with the Spirit, increase our endurance, serving to strengthen our spirit, mind and body. Moving too quickly, I risk tripping over the shield in front of me. If my pace drags, I may have an ankle clipped by the rear guard. In either case I am shaken off balance with the real possibility of taking a nasty spill onto the unforgiving concrete floor.

"For God did not call us to impurity, but to holiness."
[1 Thessalonians 4:7]


Temptations to sin are everywhere. While it is good and beneficial for my thoughts to wander as I walk, it is necessary for me to cooperate with God’s grace to maintain a watch over what I am thinking and feeling. A mind permitted to meander mindlessly is one that opens the gateway for impure thoughts to lead beyond temptation. Think seven deadly sins, all of which have as their seed an unholy thought. Throwing ourselves on God for His grace and mercy to live a holy life is a 24/7 decision to walk the straight and narrow path, whether striding on the treadmill or plopped on the couch watching the ball game. Or for that matter, while sitting in a church service.


“Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.
I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
[Matthew 5:17]

Boundaries serve as safeguards. The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the various instructions of Jesus, are given for our protection, not to be as thick and high walls from behind which we are imprisoned from enjoying life. I had a clear sense one day, as my hands rested lightly on the steel supports on either side of me, that like the presence of God, His laws are there to help keep me safe, on the path, out of danger, near to His Truth and Love. As walking on the treadmill has become a routine part of my life, I am barely aware of the bars—at the same time, I am clearly aware of the need to maintain contact with them so I don’t stumble and fall, or at least if I begin to falter, they are there to grab.

I am much more at ease with the whole treading business these days. I actually enjoy and look forward to working up a little sweat while I continue to build endurance, distance and time during these work-outs. Once temperatures warm and the earth awakens from its winter rest, I’m looking forward to getting outdoors. My husband will be joining me, although don’t let on to him too soon. Our physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional health and well-being are depending on it.

Am I choosing the narrow path or the wide? Why?

Do I tend to stare at the obstacles, or put my hope and faith in God?

Am I determined to set the pace, or do I trust in God for perfect timing?

Do I embrace God’s boundaries as protection, or resist His law as too restrictive?

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