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Prepare for Tomorrow

By Tim Tron

Burke County

 

The mist hung on the mountain like the memory of an old friend that you didn’t want to forget. Walking amongst the towering Poplars and Pines, one couldn’t help feeling the sense of majesty afforded to one who took the time to implore this realm. Mighty columns that seemed to reach to the sky held the empty canopy above, shrouded in the fog. Drops of dew-like moisture pitter-pattered upon the still winter landscape. Looking out upon the edge of a pasture, on what would be a vista on a clear day, there was nothing but an empty void of whiteness, the mystery of the unknown. God had a purpose for me being here on this trail today.

God’s purpose is in everything we do, whether we realize it or not.

My mind thought about all that was transpiring in our world and the fear that has overwhelmed our country. That mystery of not knowing has people literally held captive. Some fear to leave their homes, while or others self-quarantine in the commendable effort to thwart the spread of illness.

Those who are consumed with fright cling to every word being spewed by the media. Much like those disciples who cowered in the upper room after the crucifixion of Jesus. Their world had collapsed, and at that moment, all hope was lost. While most feared what would happen next, some knelt in prayer and sought guidance for what was to come. Their prayers would soon be answered on the third day. They had not given up hope, but instead kept on, praying and fasting for the preparation of what was to come.

Today, even though many have seemingly given in to the hype, there yet again some are taking the time to turn inward and seek His guidance in this troubled world. The latter is, in essence, preparing for the future and what is yet to come.

The thought of mountain trails and springtime began to creep into my bones this past week. On the mountain, the snows have all but melted. That still small voice seemed to whisper to me, “Now is the time to prepare…” That being said, I soon found myself – thanks to the help of my IT colleague, Shawn Whitener – in the bowels of the Varsity Gymnasium on the campus of App. State University.

The wall in front of the treadmill was made of cream-colored, painted cinderblocks. To the left, hung a flat panel TV which was turned off, its blank screen a reflection of a modern-day torture chamber in which I stood. To find this place, you have to traverse a series of doors, hallways, and stairwells, continually spiraling downward, like seeking the depths of an ancient dungeon. I was in the newly renovated staff exercise center, better known as the basement of the Varsity Gym.

To the right of where I stood, hung a chart describing the various parts of the body that were being rewarded by all of the implements of torture lining both walls of the room. Below the treadmill, just to the right, was a wire, metal fan blowing with all its might, an attempt to give one the impression of being in the real world. Slowly, after reading over the various mechanisms necessary to safely operate the machine, my legs begin to move on the magic carpet beneath my feet. The “Rolling Hills” workout option caught my eye, so when the button was selected, immediately, little red LEDs indicating the intensity of the incline that was about to kick in began blinking.

As my eyes remained transfixed upon the blinking dots, a pulsating echo of time washed through my being.

Beneath me, my legs started to churn a familiar pattern. Before long, without even knowing it, the road of yesteryear began to appear. It’s funny how the body can fall so far behind what the mind remembers. Some call it muscles memory. I prefer to think of it as the countless miles of training etched into your soul. Whatever it is, before I knew it, my stride had returned to shadow of the former self, and as it did, the pace began to pick up until there was a smoothness. It was then the mind started to find its niche. No longer was there a blank wall before me, but rather, the open road of my youth, the asphalt-covered country roads that ran like veins through the patchwork land of cornfields in the southern Indiana countryside.

Ahead of me, ran the bronzed figure of my friend and training buddy, Scott Kearns. He was at least six-feet tall and had a natural stride. He was half Cherokee and often teased me that it made him a natural runner. His long black hair bounced off his shoulders as he slowly pulled away. He made it look easy as I fought to try to stay near him. The heat of the summer was on my back. My body drank it in, thirsting for the warmth of radiant energy. The air was heavy with the rich smell of the cornfields that lined both sides of the road. The sound of the wind rustled through the multitude of leaves that formed the canyon walls of corn stalks that seemed to reach to the sky. There were no cars, no hubbub of life other than the sound Scott’s fading footsteps, and that of my heartbeat matching the pace of my feet upon the road. Off in the distance, I could hear an old grain truck rattling down a nearby highway. We were on the three-mile circle that started and stopped on our road that connected to the loop. It was the first time I had ever run any length of distance. It would be the length to which my life would be measured. Scott had assured me that if we could run this “country mile,” we could easily make the Castle High School Cross Country team.

Sweat began to trickle down my temples as my body worked to cool itself. In that former image, my entire being was already swathed in a thick layer of perspiration. This present workout, much like that of before, was preparation. Now, it was to find where I was physically and to see if I might be ready for the open road. Then, it was to see if my body was capable of trying out for the team. My Biology teacher, Mr. Edwardson, had invited me to try out, and so when I had mentioned to Scott, he suggested we prepare so that when we showed up, we wouldn’t be blown away. Little did we know back then what it would take to endure a season of training and racing in order to compete. It would take far more than a simple three-mile run. Now, much like then, there was much to consider. The difference was time and age, both excellent teachers. Yes, there was another difference as well; I was alone. There was no Scott to push me anymore, just the longing to return to an “ability.” But it was more than that. There was a feeling of a purpose in this as in the Proverbs passage, “The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD.”[1]

One might say, that what started today in the gym was the preparation to go out beyond the four walls of the Varsity Gym and out into the roads and by-ways of Boone, which, if the plan would allow, to find myself running the trails along the parkway when the weather improved; to once more return to that feeling of being one with God. To those who know, there is a uniqueness when running when your body can achieve a certain level of fitness where there is little to no exertion. It is then that my mind seems to be more able to listen to God than at any other time. The preparation reminded me of more than just the physical training, but also that which we should work toward every day: reading and sharing God’s Word.

Set in the remote valleys of the Cottien Alps, the tiny enclave of stone structures lay hidden upon the Alpine mountainside. Their inhabitants, students of the Gospels and their teachers known only as “Barbi,” which they were called in the ancient language of the valleys, which meant Uncle. There, through the long brutal winters, the students studied the Word, memorizing scriptures and testing one another. As the Bible says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”[2] Just like my friend pushed me in my youth to obtain a greater level of strength, so too did these Theological warriors, as they prepared for what lay beyond the four walls of their granite college. It was the turn of the first millennium, and the Roman Catholic Church wanted to control the souls of humanity. To do so, they chained their Bibles to the Church pulpits, disallowing anyone to read or hold in their possession a copy thereof.

This cluster of stone rooms became known as the “Barba College,” and from it, the people of the valleys, known as Waldensians, would go forth across Europe, evangelizing the Word of God nearly 600 years before the Reformation. They knew from what others had discovered, that their lives depended upon knowing the Word beyond just being able to simply read the Hebrew and Greek scrolls, but that they would also have to know it in their hearts. Paul tells us, in his letter to Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”[3] The penalty for being caught with the written Word of God was death.

It was a desperate time. Fear could have kept them hostage within those four walls, but they knew that there was a purpose in all that they did, and because God had given them the Word, it was their duty to share it with all of mankind.

As the young men trained through those harsh Alpine winters, they grew stronger not only in their abilities to survive physically but also in the defense of their faith. Capable of hiking for miles in the arduous Alpine terrain, their bodies became has hardened as their faith became emboldened. They didn’t just know their Bible; they lived it. When the spring thaws began to break open the heretofore hidden passes, they would leave the safety of the valleys. It was their duty. As Jesus had commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”[4]

It is said that the seeds of the Reformation were planted with the blood of the Waldensian martyrs.

Today, as we train to go forth, both physically and mentally, let us not be blinded for reasons that offer a little reward, but rather strive to seek a purpose for which is much more profitable. Awaken to what purpose you were made and prepare for what is to come. We know not what tomorrow may bring, so in all things ready yourselves. “And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed.”[5]

The little red dots are blinking, one heartbeat at a time. Can’t you hear those mountain pathways calling?

Turn off the TV, and the media’s relentless pursuit of pandemonium, and think of what you can do to prepare for what is next. Don’t let the fog of society’s fear keep you frozen.

There is a purpose in everything we do. You have been afforded this time for a reason. Don’t waste it.

Time is short.

Are you ready to run?

Thanks be to God.

 

[1] Proverbs 21:31 KJV

[2] Proverbs 27:17 KJV

[3] 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

[4] Matthew 28:19-20 KJV

[5] Romans 13:11 KJV

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Timothy W. Tron lives in Collettsville, NC. with his family. He is the former Director of the Trail of Faith in Valdese, where he still volunteers and helps with tours. He is the author of a new Christian series, “Children of the LIght”, with the first book being, “Bruecke to Heaven”, and his recent book, being the second, “The Light in the Darkness”. He is an active blogger, artist, and musician. Timothy also has a BSEE from UF, and is a Lay Speaker. He can be reached at twtron@live.com. You can also visit his website at //www.timothywtron.com/

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