I met Jesus on a bridge.
It was early–a crisp, bitter-cold morning in February–the sun just barely piercing the horizon, its rays setting runners ablaze with radiant glory.
It was a glimpse of heaven. All of us, step after step, trudging through the streets of downtown Austin, miles upon miles ahead of us, angels in dry-fit tees navigating the path the Creator laid out before us.
We rounded the corner onto South Congress, crowds cheering us on from both sides, a holy audience observing this divine spectacle. We made our way across the bridge, suspended above the water. The cheers from behind began to fade, replaced by the faint sound of heavy breaths and exasperated lungs.
There were runners all around me, yet in that moment, I felt so alone and isolated. Just me and my thoughts, paying little attention to the muscles in my arms and legs, perpetually expanding and contracting, propelling my body across the pavement.
Then He appeared. In the midst of the pack of runners, I felt a familiar presence, like an old friend wrapping arms around me in a warm embrace. Loneliness transformed into companionship.
God was speaking directly to me, in that still, sacred whisper:
He is here; He is in this with you.
I felt so alive. This is fullness of life: Glory shining down. Pavement underneath my feet. Jesus–my savior–keeping stride next to me. I met Jesus on a bridge. Or better yet, Jesus came down to meet with me.
One of my fatal flaws is the reality that I rarely feel like God is pleased with me. I wrestle with thoughts all the time telling me I have to earn his love and favor by doing good things, that if I do just a little bit more, then maybe God will look at me and smile. I know that He loves me, but I also desperately want Him to like me. I want him to look at the days of my life and be able to say, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
When I think back to that crisp, bitter-cold morning in February and that holy spectacle of a race, I am reminded of how, in one moment, God showed me that He loves me. And that He actually likes me too–a whole lot. Because Christ took my place, I was given the chance to take his place, and now God rejoices, singing over me and the rest of His beloved sons and daughters the song of His great love.
Never have I been more confident, more certain that the words of the Good Book, page after page, stand the test of time, proving themselves true amidst the war between Faith and Doubt.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.
This is the reason why I choose to wake up every morning and hit the pavement running. I don’t run because I think God will think highly of me, but rather, I run in light of the fact that He already does. I run because God continues to show me His goodness, and that’s something I want to chase after.