The second to last day of October I was less than two miles from home and nearing the end of my run when I felt something distinctly unpleasant in my left hamstring. It caught me by surprise, as I hadn't done anything unusual. No sprinting. No stepping on a rock and getting thrown off balance. I just put my left foot on the ground and it hurt, when all had been well as recently as the previous step.
It wasn't a passing sensation, as it quickly developed into a small, but sharp pain. I glanced to the north, at Archuleta Mesa. I had been planning to run to the top of the mesa the next day and I knew that was completely out of the question now, not just for the day, but likely for the season, as winter weather was approaching.
So I cut back on my miles, stretched my leg, perhaps a bit more often and with more diligence than usual, and gradually my left leg improved from having sensations of pain, to more of a dull ache, to feeling normal. And just in time, because there was a short race in town last week that I had been hoping to run.
I ran the race, and was surprised to have one of my best efforts of the year. And the next day, being very undecided about my running plans as I left the house, I headed west, to the river. It is downhill heading out and uphill coming back, a round trip of just under nine miles. And, somewhere along the way, I developed an ache in my right hamstring.
Just an ache. No big deal. But in the last few days, with short runs and aggressive stretching, it seems to be worse, and not better. What was it I did that helped the identical injury in the other leg get better? I don't know. I recall a bit of massage, compression and ibuprofen. Were they the key? I have no idea.
When it comes to running and recurrent injuries, this is, unfortunately, a common occurrence for me. I rarely seem to be able to recall what it was that aided my recovery the last time I had a particular injury. And, also unfortunately, it is a malady that in known to affect my spiritual life, something that I was reminded of as Robin and I read from Judges 2 the other night. Verses 10 and 11 say this:
"And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals."
The generation that had followed the Lord during the conquest of the Promised Land has passed from the scene and their children, who appear to either have no knowledge of God, or an unwillingness to follow Him, or both, are quickly about the business of doing evil in the sight of God.
What catches my eye in the story is the abrupt nature of the change in behavior by those who were called as God's chosen people. They appear to be going along just fine one moment and then, like my sore hamstring, they are derailed in the next. And that happens in my own spiritual life as well.
Going along just fine, attending to those things I know are good for me, such as reading my Bible, prayer and worship, and then in the next moment making a choice that I know, as I'm making it, is against everything God would have any of His children choose. And with that knowledge then going on to make another bad choice, and another. A 21st century version of the same things done by God's people in their promised land. It is as if I have forgotten all that God has taught me.
Thankfully, my forgetfulness isn't the last word. God's faithfulness is. God, who reminds me through His Spirit, that I am His, claimed by the price of His Own Son, and held by Him forever. God, who never has, and never will, fail to show mercy to a dearly loved child who turns back towards Him. 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.