I have only attempted running at night with a headlamp a couple of times. Quite frankly every time I go running with a headlamp I am even more amazed by the 100 milers that head out on trails, leaping over tree roots and winding their way through rocks with just a little patch of rock. The last time I went for a run with a headlamp was my New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day run where I start out about 11:30 PM and get about 3 miles in and then run for another 3-4 miles after the stroke of midnight. As I was running along our pathway system in my hometown (where there are only a couple of lights, mainly when you go under the main streets) I was struck by just how much I could see once my eyes adjusted to the darkness and I learned to keep my head steady so my light would stay out in front of me. Now I wasn’t running a trail so I know my head will bob up and down a lot more on that but after a couple of miles I really became used to the patch of light out in front of me and how it was just enough light to show me any hazards like ice or clumped up frozen snow patches that I needed to be careful on. The darkness was still enormous and at times seemed overwhelming but that little patch of light provided just enough for me to carefully hammer out my miles. As I ran I realized just how often I attempt to run through life in the darkness also. It really struck me as I ran that there have been countless times that I have purposely chosen to leave my headlamp at home and attempt to go about the ultra marathon of life in darkness and how if I had chosen just a bit differently in those times maybe I wouldn’t have taken some of the awful tumbles that I have. The more I ran and dwelt on this the more I realized that I was picking up a stone that I thought had been dropped on the side of the trail long ago. See I was picking up the stone of “what if” and “if I had” and all this stone can do is plunge me back into darkness because by going back over these topics again and again I was forcing myself to live in darkness instead of letting the light shine in front of me as I moved forward. You may be catching a theme in these mile markers, hopefully it is starting to shed some light on your trail forward.
This is this awesome passage in Ephesians that by far describes the absence of light, or the misguided use of light so better than I ever will. Ephesians 5:8-14 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Lie as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.” I am a lighting guy in my professional career as an electrical distributor (I’ve also worked as a lighting manufacturer rep and a short spell for a manufacturer of natural daylight products) so I have studied light professionally a lot. In fact I am quite passionate about light and the effect on the human body, how certain color spectrum of light are better for us from a health perspective than others, how you can change the mood in an office or classroom simply by choosing the correct color spectrum for your environment. I am also a firm believer that more light doesn’t necessarily mean that you have better light. Light has to be used efficiently in order for it to do what it is meant to do and that is simply this. Light displaces darkness. It doesn’t replace darkness which is what I think a lot of people think, but what it does is that it reveals the hiding places of darkness and exposes it to be illumined by the light. And so it is with us and how we approach our ultra marathon of life in everything we do. However, it is how we exercise light that will make the difference in our lives and in the lives around us. I love the phrase “the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” because this requires action on our part. You do understand that fruit requires action, it requires tending to the fruit tress, pruning off dead branches, ensuring your fruit tree has enough hydration and that the soil surrounding it has the proper nutrients. Running an ultra marathon requires these same characteristics also. However, if you tend to the fruit trees of life properly but you cover your trees in darkness nothing will ever grow. Just as fruit trees need the natural daylight to grow and become fruit bearing trees, so do you need the efficient use of the Light in your life to grow beyond who you are today. To efficiently use the Light you are going to have to expose some of the dark areas of your life to the light. For me this meant that I could no longer ask myself the “what if” and “if only I had” questions in life anymore. If I truly wanted to move on from where I was to become the ultra runner I knew God was calling me to be I was going to have to expose those dark questions to the light and be willing to let light overwhelm the darkness so I could see the hazards on my trail. Light will always displace darkness, it’ll never replace it as the darkness will still be there. But if you use light efficiently and in the right measures it will shine the path forward.
Living an ultra life means that to see the path forward you can no longer afford to keep running in the darkness of the “what if” and “if only I had” questions. To move forward and confidently stride to the finish of this ultra marathon of life means you will need to expose the darkness to a tiny square of life, one little patch at a time until the light fully displaces the darkness and your eyes adjust and you can see the hazards that used to trip you up.