More than a jog

Although I love my times with HaShem on the beach, a close second is jogging on a sunny winter day without wind or messy precipitation. Such was today’s gift as I headed out to have some quiet time after all the holiday celebrations. I had just texted with some of my spiritual brothers and sisters and could really feel His Love. Of course, Messianic Jewish music was playing in my headphones. My spirit was light and open to Him.

When I stay at my sister’s place I have a certain route by a beautiful wooded field, a quiet stream, and now, snowy fields. Yet as I approached one of the scenic turns I found the gradual climb and usually easy descent covered with glazy snow. As I headed up the incline the first time I was caught by a slippery surprise. My right ACL had been torn by falling on icy snow some twenty years ago so I have to be careful not to twist my ankle, or worse, have an awkward fall. After extremely cautiously climbing, as I noticed the seemingly treacherous descent, I slowed up quickly and compensated with tiny steps all the way down. The rest of the road had been plowed so I debated what to do about the second time around my chosen loop.

I so love the nature view of that course that I decided to do it again. After all, the scary part was short and I would just be careful. This time as I approached the challenging area, I had a bit more confidence. I knew what lay ahead, I hadn’t fallen the first time, I had a plan for handling it. So I continued. This time I noticed my steps were not as hesitant, more like my usual gait, and I wasn’t as nervous about falling.

One more loop to go. Encouraged by my successes so far, I proceeded with the usual route. As I approached the slippery hill, I felt great! I actually just went up the slippery ascent and jogged down the descent without accommodation for the crusted snow cover. I was shocked that nothing in my environment had changed, and yet, my attitude toward it, and my ability to interact with it, had changed profoundly, for the positive!

There is innate danger. And I easily could have fallen on my tush. Yet on this day, in this particular case, HaShem wanted me to understand that there are other situations, and opportunities in life that we do not undertake due to our attitudes rather than the reality of the situation. Our fears and perceptions very often hold us back from applying for a job, performing a song, reaching out to a new friend. The scenarios in our mind, and our personal filters and narratives, dwarf our opportunities to engage in life more deeply. They cause us to take the less beautiful route rather than enable us to fully experience the glory of His created universe around us and experience all that He has made available to us.

The course reminded me of our walk as Messianic Jews. For much of our lives before discovering Yeshua we may be following a typical faith course and over time not even notice the beauty of our surroundings, the gift of faith in God even if not understood as deeply as we are about to experience. For some, as we catch a glimmer of what lies ahead, we may feel we are running toward this new knowledge of the Messiahship of Yeshua, and there may be a time that the journey is easy. We soak in the beauty of the experience, just as the many days of jogging by the fields and waterways.

Inevitably, however, obstacles come our way – naysayers, critics, lapses in faith – that shake our confidence, cause us to dampen our zeal, take more hesitant steps, as on the slippery hill this week. Yet, if we stay confident in the truth of our beliefs, often the perceived obstacles are truly perception rather than reality. Nothing in the truth has changed, just as the ice on the hill was the same all three times. All that changes are our perceptions and experiences interacting with those truths. The truth of Yeshua as the promised Messiah doesn’t change. Even if actual challenging obstacles try to block us from what we know and become a part of our experience, as the icy path, we find that the stronger our faith, the more confidence we have, the easier to overcome the detractors, distractions, and hurdles. Once I knew I could run the icy hill without falling, my confidence increased and dispelled my fear. Negative actions of others, our own fear, and circumstances cannot detract from the truth unless we choose to let that happen. The choice is ours.

There are realities that can deter our ability to move forward. Some in the mainstream Jewish community, in particular, the gatekeepers and large organizations, may refuse to learn about our faith in an open minded manner. Our interactions with them can be discouraging. It is natural to feel a bit hesitant about next steps when such setbacks occurs. Yet the “realities” that hold us back are in our head and emotional wiring – feelings of rejection, marginalization. I encourage you to remember these emotions are not the truth. They are just the filter of wanting to be accepted and understood in our personal narrative reacting to a situation. Rejection and marginalization do not change the fact that Yeshua is the Messiah, just as my fear of falling on the icy hill did not make the hill factually unnavigable.

I encourage you to stay strong in your faith, regain your stride, as you will find our interactions with the Jewish world are becoming a place less and less icy to our way of thinking.

Shabbat shalom.

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