By Jessica Fox

Follow the Flash

My chest is tight. My shirt is soaked with sweat. The path along the edge of the jungle bank is clear for the most part except for the large, jutting rocks at the joints of the hills. Water trickles down these boulders, so I slow down to cross the slippery rocks. I welcome the short respite, take an extra breath and continue running. My attention is usually divided between following the trail of pieces of shredded paper scattered along the path and keeping my feet moving smoothly and quickly through the obstacles that appear — waterways, overgrown weeds, slippery fallen banana tree leaves, bamboo bridges, trash-littered village alleyways, and one-foot-wide rice field footpaths. My screaming lungs, oxygen-craving muscles, and beauty of nature require equal attention and respect.

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I follow the small paper scrap trail marked by the hare. “Keep the paper on your left” are the instructions I follow. “If you come upon paper scraps arranged in the shape X, turn back and find the proper trail.” At times, there are gaps in these paper hints that cause the runners and walkers to second-guess their route. The rule-of-thumb is this: the paper scraps will reappear in the first 50 meters if it is the true trail; otherwise, turn around and try again. There are other logical, yet ridiculous, regulations to this trail running club, Hash House Harriers.
That is where I meet God. This is the third blessing. I meet Him, or rather catch a glimpse, a flash, of Him. Right there, in the middle of the jungle, in the sweet spot of the running pack, I am reminded of my journey with God. All is quiet (except for my gasping, mind you), yet I catch glimpses of the solo runner up ahead, his red shirt flashing through the gaps of jungle foliage. The runner leads from a distance, and I trace his general direction up the hill, over the river, or just straight on. I do not need to know how to take each exact step over the slippery rocks or through weed-covered paths, but rather keep my eyes on the flashes. And I see, like in my journey with God, although there may be no audible words exchanged between the two of us, He leads me in silent, colorful flashes. Just like this red-shirted man, our Father is the guide who sets the trail, travels alongside us, and comes up from behind when we are lost or disoriented. As we continue along this tight, narrow, sweat-filled, gasping trail through the jungles of Southeast Asia, the shivering sidewalks of Chicago or the stress-filled hallways of academia, let us train our eyes, fix our vision, plot our course after the silent flashes of the One who leads (Hebrews 12:2).
About the Author

Jessica received her MA in Linguistics from Indiana University and her BA in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the Calvin College. She taught English as a foreign language in Indonesia with the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and US Department of State English Language Fellow programs. She is pursuing a doctorate in second language studies at Michigan State University. In her spare time, she enjoys trail running with her new dog, creating new crockpot delicacies, and dabbling with guitar and songwriting.

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