“Be careful!” I yell over my shoulder.
We’ve been running up and down quiet canyon trails for over fifty minutes, and for the first forty of those minutes we were graceful gazelles at sunrise.
Now we are buffaloes, stampeding the canyon exit before the sun gets too high and we perish in this valley, never to be seen again, save our bleached bones.
“This is the part of the run where someone always falls, because their legs are getting heavy…” I am channeling my best trail coaching know-how.
I can tell our steps are less spry than when we set out, our shoe’s scuffing the tops of rocks and roots, instead of skimming over them with ease. The December air amplifies the hard breathing of our little herd.
“Pick up your feet!” I’m not kidding, and they know it. Here’s what happened to poor Angela last month on the same trail…
“Run light, athletes! Run light!”
And exactly two breaths after those encouraging words, it is me, the unfortunate lead buffalo, who stumbles and launches unceremoniously into twigs and cactus. How quickly I am lying face-down, wrists throbbing, with Texas-size grit embedded in my knees!
They all try hard not to laugh.
I try hard to laugh.
I brush off dust and shame, and we scramble our way up-and-out of the canyon a mile-and-a-half to our waiting cars filled with water and wet-wipes. It is only then that I realize my car key is no longer in my pocket.
And so, despairing, I set out again down into the canyon.
Is it worth mentioning that no one volunteered to go back in with me? I’d been kicked out of the herd to fend for myself; alone, limping, the scent of blood on me still.
I realized at some point in my return trek that my key had likely flown out of my pocket on impact, but I had no idea where exactly that might have happened? Time passed slowly as I shuffled along, scanning the trail, every bend in the path appearing the same as the last.
Did I fall by this tree? This rock? Where’s due north (as if that would have helped me)? Where the heck am I? How many times had David told me “Be careful, babe, that’s the only key we have for the Honda.” A million, maybe? I’m tired. Oh, I have a billion things I need to be doing right now instead of hunting for a key in the middle of the woods…
I slow down and trudge, feeling helpless. This is a silly, stupid, ridiculous search. I’ll never find that #^#@$&*! key. Why didn’t I bring in water? I am going to die in here.
I stop in the path and bend over, my hands propped above knees that have seen better days. “God, this seems like such a lame prayer, but it would be really, really great if you could help me find my key…”
I feel bad even saying it. I don’t say it out loud, I just half-heartedly thought it. I have not the slightest bit of confidence that the God of the universe would acknowledge this kind of…
And there it was. There it was! My single car key, six feet from where I prayed the lamest prayer ever prayed. The tiniest tip of its white plastic key-ring was waving me a cheery hello from under a pile of leaves.
I couldn’t breathe.
It was crushingly quiet, just me with God in the woods. I could feel my heart banging, my eyes welling up with tears. Thank you. I could feel God’s good humor. Thank you. He was so near, enjoying Himself and everything about the moment. Thank you, LORD.
I felt God’s delight.
Here I am, Kim.
I see you.
I am with you, always.
I never take my eyes off you.
Your little tiny faith doesn’t disappoint me.
It makes me happy to help you.
Thanks for asking.
Here’s your key!
Remember I love you.
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Joy to you, as you remember the LORD this day.
May you find him and enjoy him today.
May you feel his delight over you.
May he quiet you with his love, and give you his peace.