One of the places I run in Dulce is from the parsonage down Narrow Gauge road to the river and back. Narrow Gauge is so named because that is where the old narrow gauge railroad ran. The road runs parallel to a small creek, down to the Navajo River, where there is a bridge and the paved road ends. From the parsonage it is a bit less than nine miles, round trip. I would guess that I have made that run between 80 and 100 times since we came to Dulce.
It's a pretty place to run, and also quiet, as there is very little traffic after you get out of town. Going downhill I can look around the canyon and appreciate the beauty of the rocks, trees, horses, cows, and the occasional glimpses of wildlife. Coming back from the river is a little different, as it is all uphill and so I am mostly thinking about putting one foot down and then the next, until I'm back home. I'd run there more often if not for the long hill climb home.
I ran there earlier this week and something caught my eye on the return. There was a streak of green on a rock wall, running from top to bottom. It was made by a band of evergreens that grow along the canyon wall. It was striking and beautiful; something I've gone past many times without noticing before.
As I saw the green of the trees it reminded me of a very similar thing that happened the previous day. I was doing some home visits and on one of them I opened my Bible to read Psalm 23 before praying. As my eyes moved to Psalm 23, on the opposite page of my Bible the words of Psalm 26:8 seemed to jump off the page at me. There David writes,
"O Lord, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells."
I have no idea how many times I've read Psalm 26. I can be certain that it is more than ten times, but probably not the 80 or 100 times I've run up that hill. But I don’t recall those beautiful words of David ever gripping me like that before. In the midst of a Psalm where David proclaims his righteousness before God he changes course to say that he loves God and the place where God reveals His glory to him.
David just seems to be captivated by the place where God may be found, and where none of the flaws and failings of human life exist. David is someone who was acutely aware of the fallen nature of human life, as the Bible shows both his passion for God and the ways that at times his life was consumed by sin. And there, for one verse in Psalm 26, he casts his eyes on the future that awaits all who place their hope in God alone.
It is quite unlikely that the next time I run up Narrow Gauge and see that band of evergreens I will be surprised at their beauty, as I was earlier this week. But I will remember that in my mind the trees are now linked with Psalm 26, and it's look ahead to the place where God's glory dwells.
May God give you images that point ahead, towards His glory, and the eternal peace that place of dwelling will hold for all who come to Him through Christ Jesus. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
( I went back to take a picture of the hill this morning, but it was a bit too early and the trees, towards the right side, were still in the shade.)