An Unexpected Friend
By Tim Tron
“The brain is considered to be the primary generator and regulator of emotions; however, afferent signals originating throughout the body are detected by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and brainstem, and, in turn, can modulate emotional processes.”
There were blue patches between the clouds as the sunrise sought to find a hole through which to shine. As my footsteps reached the landing behind Anne-Belk Hall to start my morning run, raindrops began to fall. The warmth of the season was still distant, but the air, humid and close, was welcoming, so the sparse rainfall was likewise a comfort.
Running on campus is not one of my favorite locations. It is much more visually rewarding and inspiring to find oneself on those trails leading up our nearby mountains. Yet, today was a short day, so the pavement and sidewalks of the urban jungle were my forests this morning. As is my new tradition, I began quoting the Gospel of John as my legs began to propel me forward. Yesterday’s run was still lingering in these old joints, but the joy of finding oneself welcoming the dawn while in the Word is something to behold. So, pushing on, the words began to overwhelm the pain, and soon it was more of an emotion, the spirit, if you will, carrying me onward.
The sentences laced together like a vine weaving its way up a majestic oak until these words escaped my lips, “Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.” At that moment, just before me, was a young man running in my direction, smiling broadly. At first, it appeared that he might know me, so welcoming was his smile. My eyes searched the face but could not place it. As he drew close, he said, “Mind if I join you?”
“No, not at all,” was my reply. We were just opposite the street from Stick Boy Bakery.
He turned around and began running alongside me on the sidewalk. I quickly introduced myself, and he said his name was Max. I mentioned to him that he caught me in chapter 2, and so I repeated the verse in which he had suddenly appeared. When I got to the line, “But he spake of the temple of his body,” my new friend literally leaped as if he had just hurdled over a log in the path. “Wow,” Max beamed with an expression of revelation, “I was just meditating on just such a philosophical aspect of training; how the body and the mind are connected. Keeping the body fit helps the mind remain active, alert, and able to grow.” He looked at me with wild eyes in amazement at the confirmation and the rarity of occasion that someone had spoken of something upon which he too had been thinking.
Likewise, as he spoke, my mind was trying once more to wrap around the Godly coincidence to which I had been afforded. “Where does that come from,” my new friend asked, with regard to the scripture.
“Chapter 2 of the Gospel of John,” came my measured breath as we made our way up the hill toward Daniel Boone Inn.
“What’s that,” he asked?
In my mind, the words, “OH MY LORD,” was screaming, followed by, “Thank you, Jesus, for sending me someone to whom I could share this morning.”
At this point, I want to stop and make a point.
No matter where we go, no matter what our course of trajectory the day’s plans take us, we should always be ready to give an account of the Gospel. 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Earlier in the week, it became apparent that I was going through one of those despondent episodes of sanctification; whereby, you find it challenging to remain in the spirit, and God seems to be ignoring you. This sense of being alone seemed to convey something I recently read about what C.S. Lewis wrote, “The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise, when they go, and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.”
And so, as my new friend began to chime in with his interpretations, it became apparent that God had created the calm before the storm. How much more remarkable is the dramatic production when there is a sequence of acts in which little to nothing happens before the climaxing scene? For in these moments, the tension slowly builds so that it has a greater impact upon the senses when the dramatic conclusion erupts. The same was the case on this particular day so that as the sun was slowly rising above the distant mountainside, in the dusk of those shadowed roadways, a day full of fellowship, sharing, and evangelism had just begun.
As we continued our way up to King Street, heading south, Max mentioned how Rappers, with all of their gold jewelry, were saying that, yes, all of this was nothing compared to being here and now, to the legitimacy of life regardless of wealth and pleasure. Some of the things he related to scripture were very strange, and repeatedly I had to ask him what he meant. He would then reword his comments until they were along the same lines of language that I could follow, for it seemed as if we were from different planets regarding how he spoke and to what I could comprehend. The voice of today’s youth, imparted upon by the worldly attributes of music, social media, and video, lends to another realm of interpretation that I never cease to stop learning – it is ever-changing. To reach this generation, we must learn to speak in their voice, as strange and foreign as it may sound.
The farther we ran, the more it sounded as if my new friend was speaking from a background of faith, but it was difficult to fully know, so relegated were his words in that alternate word speak of his. When he got to the point where he mentioned how we were like beings surrounded by dark forces, it triggered my thoughts, and from my mouth, like a well springing up into eternal life, the scriptures of John 1 began to flow, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” Max remarked how what he just heard was so powerful and true. He went on to continue to speak in his own words the scripture he had just received. Knowing that this was his way of comprehending, I remained mostly silent and listened, correcting by suggestion only when he had completely fallen off track.
By now, we were making our way back to my office, moving up Howard Street toward Peacock Hall, the School of Business. Our conversation was moving along faster, especially since that stretch of roadway went downhill, affording my lungs the extra space with which to literally gasp for air. Max continued to seek more of what he had heard, and as time would allow, we continued to cover as much as possible. But before we knew it, we were standing back at the base of Ann-Belk Hall. It seemed as if our train had abruptly pulled into the station, and for a moment, we stood staring at one another, wondering if we wanted to get off or not. Feeling like this was one of those moments where Jesus had said, “Herein is not the saying true, one soweth and another reapeth,” it was difficult to say goodbye so soon. Nevertheless, God had provided an opportunity, and it was in that instance of time that He allowed me to share with one that was ready to receive.
So often, when we feel as if nothing is happening in our spiritual lives, God is there, working out something in the background. In times of isolation and quiet, we must remind ourselves that He is preparing a way even when we feel like we are disconnected. When those periods of isolation seem to be a deafening roar of silence, focus on what you can control; like your own being. Like the temple of the body to which Jesus had meant, we must remain mindful of how we treat this vessel. Not only should we think in the manner of things to which we ingest, both materially and spiritually, but how we care for in our physical strength. Not only should our bodies be kept whole through consumption but also through activity. If we care for what God has endowed us with, how much greater will be our ability to focus on Him because of a strong mind and body?
Lastly, keep in mind that seeds are planted at the times we least suspect.
Remember to always carry your parcel of seeds with you, for you never know when God will break the ground and ready the soil for planting.
Continue always in prayer and supplication for that day when the time is right, when those prayers are answered or when you are asked to step up and speak His word.
Thanks be to God.
 Jerath R, Crawford MW. How Does the Body Affect the Mind? Role of Cardiorespiratory Coherence in the Spectrum of Emotions. Adv Mind Body Med. 2015 Fall;29(4):4-16. PMID: 26535473.
 John 2:20-21 KJV
 The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit his website at //www.timothywtron.com/ or see more of his writings HERE.