Death on the Trail

I tried a new trail today, trying to avoid the few steep hills I usually run. My knee has been a little achy lately. I snapped a picture, posted it on Instagram with the caption, “give me a trail over a treadmill any day.” Exhilarated once again in nature. The conversation in my head alternating between navigation details, “I can’t step there too icy, oh i need to walk here, oh man thank goodness for these branches i can hold on to, oh wow my lungs feel great” and soul stirrings, “what am i afraid of God, what really is going on behind that argument, does this fear connect with my childhood, I can’t believe at one point in my life I thought fear wasn’t an issue for me.”

At my last session, my counselor said, “I think there is fear there.” I allowed him to look at a picture and some words in my journal. I also had been describing the last week of my life, including how our dog was in and out of the hospital before we made the agonizing decision to put him to sleep. The same day we said goodbye to Louie we found out my Grandmom Conner passed away at the age of 104. Even though we are sad, she was ready. I think I will write a post dedicated solely to her soon. On top of that it had been a week of extra responsibility on the work front for my husband which created the perfect stress storm for a massive argument between us.

When my counselor said fear I instinctively knew he was right. But why and of what exactly I wasn’t sure. I have decided I want to follow this trail of fear in my life and see what lies at the end. Could it be fear of rejection? Yeah that’s probably at work some. Fear of failure? Yes it rattles around. And I know there are other fears at work in my heart and mind sometimes.

But today on the trail, God made it clear. Fear of death.

Right after I took the Instagram picture I came to a fork in the trail. I chose to go left onto a new trail deeper into the woods in my growing running strength. Not knowing exactly my way out I continued. I was awestruck, the beauty. I thought, it feels like Narnia, thick pine trees, beautiful snow, sun and shadows. I almost grabbed another picture but I didn’t want to stop.

Then I saw it, death. Right on the ground, in the middle of the path were bones, real bones, not a whole skeleton, but bones of an animal, left by a predator. I stopped dead in my tracks. Fear gripped me. Are there ferocious animals waiting to attack me? Think Beauty and the Beast, when the wolves attack Belle in the woods. I mean I know, probably not, right? But just last week, I saw two coyotes race by me close, scaring the living bejebbers out of me.

After I caught my breath, took my earbuds out and scanned the woods with the eyes of a detective I decided to keep going. The trail calling me forward. Fear did not stop me today on the trail. I continued to run. I continued to move. But how many times in the past have I stopped in fear, hesitated in fear, or spun in fear and haven’t recognized it?

I prayed earlier this week:

Layers upon layers 

of hurt

of anger

of lies

of unbelief

Shatter it Lord

All of it.

Get to the bottom

So fear of death it is, God. He’s answering. Do I know exactly what this means? No. Are we talking physical death? No. Not that I never fear physical death. But this is not what is gripping me, this is not what is holding me back. Not today. Today the question is: what am I afraid to lose forever? When you lose someone or something dear to you, it marks you. You are changed. Recently, I lost my Grandmom and my dog. A long time ago I lost something else, it changed me, I am marked forever. But this fear will not hold me forever.

“Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand                 those who take refuge in you from their foes.”            Psalm 17:7

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.”                                                                     Psalm 18:16-17


3 thoughts on “Death on the Trail

  1. Thanks for this. Dealing with layers is hard, confusing, frustrating and necessary. Thanks for Psalm 18:16-17.
    Bought the book and we are going through it together.
    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jen, thank you for sharing your vulnerability. Yes, fear can grip us, immobilize us, threaten to take away our hope, our future. But fear can also propel us to truth; to healing, redemption and newness. Keep pressing on!

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