Run no. 15 – Running signposts

onewaysignpost

Distance: 4.53 miles   Time: 40’ 33”

As I ran around Watermeads Country Park today, I was passed by a cyclist.

This is not an usual occurrence. What was unusual was that after he passed me he did not immediately disappear into the distance, but I seemed to be keeping pace with him.

The momentary fancy that perhaps I was running faster, was son shattered as he stopped and turned to address me.

We were at a fork in the path and he asked me, “Is this the way to Thurmaston?”

I answered in the affirmative; we exchanged momentary pleasantries about how easy it is to lose one’s way on these twisty pathways – I have form in this! He then thanked me and cycled off, quickly disappearing into the distance.

It struck me that I had actually served as a ‘running signpost’ for that cyclist.

As I reflected further, it occurred to me that we also act as ‘running signposts’ to each other in the spiritual realm.

We are all on a spiritual path, heading in a chosen direction, with a specific appreciation and understanding of the terrain, where we have come from and a fair idea of where we are heading.

As we bump into each other we can serve as running signposts, pointing each other to the way we believe to be the right one.

There are only two kinds of people who really make use of signposts:

The first group is those who know themselves to be lost. They have no idea where they are, they have no idea what road to take, and they are searching desperately for a signpost that will point them in the right direction.

The second group is those who think that they are on the right road, but who are starting to have doubts, second thoughts, to experience confusion; these people need a signpost to affirm them, to reassure them, to let them know that all is well.

I understand this second circumstance particularly well, as I lived in France for many years and have first-hand experience of the dreaded French ‘déviation’. In France when road works require the closure of a road – which happens a lot in narrow country roads – a big friendly sign will show you the direction of the ‘déviation’ – the way around the blockage.

Sadly, after that first indication, there is normally no other signpost placed along the alternative route. They are not so much a system of guide posts to take drivers around the closed road, as an initial indication to local people of the best direction to start from in their circuitous route based upon their own local knowledge.

Any ‘out-of-towners’ who follow the deviation signpost, will find themselves barrelling down a French country lane for several kilometres until gradually it dawns upon them that no further signposts have been placed, and that, almost certainly, they should have turned right or left several minutes ago.

In the UK ‘deviations’ tend to be marked from start to finish, with signposts placed at regular intervals in order to reassure people that they are still on the right route around the blockage.

As we act as running signposts to each other on our spiritual journey we need to be ready to point out what we believe to be the right direction.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect[1]

As we meet with people who are searching for direction, we can, as running signposts, only share with people the story of our ‘road so far’. Our personal knowledge of where we have come from, how we began our journey, why we chose this particular path, and where we believe the journey will end.

For those who are starting to doubt whether they are on the right road there are two things to say. Firstly, that wondering, worrying, reflecting are not negative but positive. It is better to be thinking about, and attentive to, the path you are on, than simply blindly, unthinkingly, crashing forward. Progress is only progress when you are headed in the right direction and we can all lose our way from time to time (me more than most!).

But we can also confirm that we believe this to be the right road, to share those experiences, insights, encounters that have given us confidence in our chosen route.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.[2]

Keep running, keep pointing to the way.

[1] 1 Peter 3 :15 NIV

[2] 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

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