Warning: This may sound a wee-bit too thought provoking to come from me...but roll with me on it, please?
Both of you may recall that I like think of myself as an avid runner. I'm not a fast runner; I'm not a pretty runner; and I sure don't have the kind of body that makes people stop and say, "Man, I bet that guys likes to run."
But I do - I love nothing more than to start my morning off with a 4-6 mile jaunt around these concrete-laden trails of McKinney, TX.
So I head out about 5:30 every morning, and though sometimes I change my route up a bit, the first two miles always takes me down the same path. As the summer days pass by the darkness remains a little bit more each day. And with a minimal number of street lights on the first phase of my run it's not always easy to see things that might be lurking in the shadows.
About a month ago as I was running along I saw what appeared to be a tennis ball-sized rock sitting on the side walk. I figured the easiest thing to do would be to step over it...only right when I started to do so, "the rock" jumped as well. Now I run with an mp3 player...so I'm not exactly sure how loud I screamed...but I feel confident that it rivaled Janet Leigh's shower scene effort in "Psycho." After I took a dozen or so steps I stopped, turned around, and went back to investigate my close encounter.
"The rock" turned out to be a toad. At a loss for what to do, I figured the proper thing to do would be to greet the toad with a formal toad greeting. So I did so...then apologized for our near fatal collision and went on my way. That was on a Tuesday. The following morning was a rare, rainy Wednesday morning...but, undaunted, I made my way out the door at around 5:30. At the exact spot in my run where I had my toad encounter on Tuesday I spotted another "rock." As I closed in on the "rock," I noticed, again, that it was a toad.
Now...I can't tell one toad from another...but I felt fairly confident this was the same toad I had met the previous day. This time, without stopping, I gave another toad-friendly greeting and continued on my way.
Next morning...same time, same place...same toad!
And every morning, for the past month, I've encountered the same toad at the same spot.
This morning, as I said 'hello' and 'good-bye' to my amphibious friend...I thought about how awesome it is to see that little guy each morning. I know he's going to be there...I know that I need to run on the left-side of the path instead of the right (he's obviously partial to the right side), and that he doesn't move until after I pass. And I thought about how bummed I would be if he weren't there.
And I wonder what sort of consistency I provide. Am I always the same person my co-workers expect to see? Does my wife know what to expect from me? Am I the same husband she married 16 years ago? Am I the same wall of support I pledged to be when were married? Do my kids feel that they can count on Dad to be the same guy regardless of how his day went, regardless of how tired he is, regardless of how much he dislikes his job, and regardless of how he feels?
And does God know he can find me in the same spot whenever he needs me? When he sends challenges my way does he know that he can count on me? When there is someone to be ministered to, does he feel comfortable that I'll be the person he can rely on?
You know...I don't think I would like the answer to these questions!
Guess I could learn a little more from my new toad friend! Hope he's there tomorrow...