oh man it’s finally fall in sacramento, california. yes, at the end of october it is finally fall. often in the northern part of the golden state the seasons are indistinguishable – spring turns to summer and summer turns to fall but you’d never know it if it wasn’t for the change in attire of adolescent teen girls and their decision to stop ordering mango a go-go’s from jamba juice and turn to psl’s (pumpkin spice lattes, in case you’re unfamiliar) from starbs.
it was actually 80 degrees just a few days back. but today it’s cold. not just sub-70 degrees cold, but actually a legitimate below 50 cold. it has been pouring rain all day. that’s how you know autumn has arrived and summer has parted ways with all of its dearly beloved sunshine worshippers that frequent folsom lake as often as the movie theater year round. i am a sunshine, short shorts, and iced coffee kinda girl. i love me some california rays. i don’t wear pants. ever. i literally only own one pair of jeans and they’re my “if i have to go somewhere where shorts or a dress would be deemed completely disrespectful or inappropriate Levi’s.” so as you can imagine when fall comes rolling in, we don’t necessarily see eye to eye. while everyone else rejoices in the dropping temperatures and cute abercrombie sweaters and ae jeans, i’m walking around in my nike pros with a sweatshirt on, shivering, and refusing to buy in to the imminent season (and wardrobe) change.
i just find so much beauty in the summertime that i can’t imagine wanting the weather to ever change. waking up early to sun filling my room, making a pot of coffee, and reading devotionals out on the back deck as birds chirp and buster runs rampant around the back yard. the sound of lincoln brewster and lauren daigle fill the house as i make breakfast and dance around the kitchen in my socks. ahhh, perfection. because of this, i go through a mourning period around this time every year. departing from my dear sunshine and long days and warm nights is a bit of a tragedy.
i really cannot stand being cold and i rather be outside playing all day long than be couped up in the house sipping cocoa… BUT, there is one thing i absolutely love about the change in seasons — rain. specifically, running in the rain. i feel God in a myriad of ways. sometimes it is early morning quiet time where it is just us. other times it is a nice hike or peaceful morning by a body of water. other times it is drowning in worship music and feeling his presence surround me. but where i feel absolutely closest to God is running in the rain.
when it starts pouring, that is when i feel Him the most. when i hear the weather man say rain, i nearly start jumping up and down. i will stop whatever i am doing, lace up my frees and sprint out the door. running during the peak of summer is great. sports bra dripping sweat and hair a hot mess, it’s great – but it does not compare to running in the rain. every stride in the downpour is the Lord pouring down on me. i am cleansed, renewed, and find wild freedom there. everything else in my life slips away and God and i get to share so much intimacy. i feel like i can run forever. my best race times entering college were in the rain. my longest runs – in the rain. my favorite runs – in the rain. something about it is as if i’m not running alone, but God is running with me, and He is for me. maybe it has something to do with the fact that Jesus is the water of life (John 4:14). in the downpour He is the living water purifying my soul and making me new. or perhaps it is because during those runs i know what i am running for. i am running for God and because of this he gives me the endurance to race toward my eternal prize (1 corinthians 9:24-27). maybe it is because the Lord knows that this is the place i feel Him the most and He wants to make our time together as impactful and precious as possible. whatever it is, i love the fall because it gives me my rainy runs.
well unfortunately as much as i embrace the rainy season of running, i don’t always know how to navigate the rainy seasons of my life. i have found myself in one of those seasons at this moment in time. i woke up at 5:45 this morning, not to catch a sunrise morning run to watch the sky turn from eery onyx to dark purple to navy to a beautiful sea of cloud scattered blues, but to be at the hospital by 6:30. when i’d normally be about halfway into my morning scripture and peanut butter, banana oatmeal, today i lay in a small magnetic tube with noise cancelling headphones on and a cheap hospital blanket draped over my trembling legs. the familiar cold metal table beneath me and tiles of tree filled sky ceiling panels above me faded away as i closed my eyes and the 45 minute process of loud noises and laying completely still commenced. i tried to think about anything but being there, but the more i tried not to think about it, the more anxiety and fear filled me.
“jessy are you okay?” the technician asked as he paused the machine about 15 minutes in. i nodded my head. “okay good. i need you to stop moving then. you’re shaking a lot and the pictures aren’t coming out clearly.”
i swallowed hard and crossed my arms across my chest. i prayed. God please give me the strength and courage to get this over with. and then i sang. i squeezed my eyes shut and sang. i repeated “jesus i will trust you, i will trust you. i know you never fail, i will trust you. jesus i will,” over and over again. i felt like i was in that darn tube forever and those lyrics were on repeat in my head. finally, the machine stopped chirping and the technician came back in to take off my headphones and let me know it was over. this was my third mri in less than 3 years. i was a seasoned veteran at this but that didn’t make the experience any less uncomfortable.but now it was over. God had gotten me through it once again. and almost as if a reward for being strong and having faith in His goodness, as i left the hospital, it began to rain. i could take all my cares and worries to Him in the oncoming showers.
i try to be a pillar of strength, a source of joy and light — a ray of sunshine. i think that’s why summer and i resonate so well with one another, we get each other. no matter what is going on in my life, i want to have a positive, warm impact on those around me. it is a rare occasion that you’ll find anything but a smile on my face (unless of course you catch me making ugly faces just for the fun of it, which is more frequent than i’d like to admit). but on a day like today, it is hard. and so i cried. i cried a lot. i got home from the hospital, threw my exhausted body onto the couch and let the crocodile tears flow right out. just like the onset of winter and my reluctance to adapt and put on pants, the onset of winter in my life is challenging me. running is my summer. running is what makes fall and winter enjoyable to me. running is where i feel God. but as i received the results of my mri at 10:14 this morning, i realized that pretty soon i won’t be running at all.my summer really is coming to an end. winter is setting in, and this time there’s no rain to run in. it’s just cold. frigid cold. and i’m scared.
but there’s hope… there is ALWAYS hope. just like when i run in the rain, and just like earlier today when i entered that foreboding metal tube – i know God is here. i think of Joshua 1:9, “have i not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” and i am reminded that no matter what i needn’t fear. the Lord already knows how this battle will end, and He is for me. 2 Corinthians reminds me that His grace is sufficient — “For His power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). in philippians, paul reminds me to find joy in my suffering. when he sat in prison and wrote to his beloved people of philippi, he reminded them that it is a privilege to suffer in this life. to know suffering, surely we become more like Christ. when our joy is in the Lord, nothing can take that peace away from us (Philippians 4:4-7). i pray that as the day continues on, i can find rest and assurance in the promises of God. i pray that i can be confident in God’s sovereignty and not let fear overwhelm me. i pray that i can thank God that, at least for now, i am able to lace up my sneakers and go bask in His glorious presence in the gleaming and wonderful rain. i will be with Him, enjoy Him, and trust in Him. every though the cold has finally set in, i don’t have to stop seeing the sunshine that God brings each day.