Red fox racing rails, I saw yesterday. Nose to the north, body and tail following, straight and rigid as the steel ribbons themselves. He moved so effortlessly, so smoothly that except for his blurred legs, he almost seemed motionless.
As we approached the railroad tracks, I’d noticed the creature running between them not far from us, silhouetted against the waking sky. As we neared, it froze barely a moment to size up the dog at my side, then moved on.
“You go, Mr. Fox!” He reduced his gallop to a trot, turned his head to look back at us, then veered off the tracks and vanished. As though he had a pre-arranged meeting there, in that red bush. It swallowed him whole; the perfect camouflage for a red fox running under a red sky. Following an inner sense of purpose, known only to himself. And he didn’t come out the other side.
Jesus, scripture tells us, began his day purposefully too. Mark 1:35 records that He got up before dawn, slipped outside and headed for a more private place, where he stopped to focus solely on talking things over with his Heavenly Father. Like that fox, he had a mission. A private appointment; not with a bush, but with God, who once displayed himself to the Prophet Moses as a fire in a bush.
I try to start my days with a sense of purpose. Grateful for each new one. Bouncing with a “let’s get on with it,” mindset: Enjoy every blessing. Tackle every responsibility. Walk strong. Run well. No complaining. Connect with God on purpose. Pray about everything.
Some days I do better at all that than on other days. Especially connecting purposefully with God.
The Preacher is fond of saying, “If we don’t have a time to pray, and a place to pray, we likely don’t pray.” He’s right.
I pray on the fly often, while walking, driving or working. That’s good, understand — but it’s no substitute for veering into the bush. For disappearing from the view of others for awhile. Taking my shoes off and pausing in God’s presence. Giving him my undivided attention. Stilling my racing mind and allowing his Word to speak life into my weary soul.
When I do that more regularly, vital things get said, vital things get heard and, eventually, vital things get done. In fact, so much is accomplished through prayer, that the devil cheers when we become too distracted, too busy, too apathetic to pray.
Honest prayer is hard. Easy to avoid. It brings us to a place of uncomfortable vulnerability where we must admit our doubts and disappointments — in God, others and ourselves. But a purposeful, consistent practice of prayer also strengthens and lifts us, assures, comforts and feeds us. Even more, it makes a difference in the lives of others we pray for, in our communities, our nation and our world.
Have you confirmed your appointment time with God today? He’s waiting. Veer into the bush.