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ACU Trail – A Spiritual Exercise

2015 June 26
by Mike

The Lunsford Foundation Trail around Abilene Christian University is my default jogging path when I’m in Abilene. It has become a sacred space for morning exercise and devotion.

Before I begin the 1.84 mile trail, I pause briefly at Jacob’s Dream.Jacob's Dream I remember well the first time Jack Maxwell described the project to our little covenant group. I’ve been there for devotionals, weddings, baptisms, and photoshoots. It’s a perfect spot to pause for a moment as the morning light shines through the stones, the space creating a sense of seeing the cross in the east.

From there, I walk down the sidewalk to where it hits the jogging trail, turning south (right) to run counterclockwise.

The first lap is a time to meditate on the many scriptures that line the path.

The first comes immediately at .07 mile (marking from where the sidewalk meets the trail). Matthew 6:33 – What a powerful way to start the day—by focusing on a passionate pursuit of the kingdom.

Next comes Psalm 103:12 (at the .35 point): a chance to soak in the constant forgiveness of God, the one who removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.

The third scripture (at .50 mile) is Psalm 121:2. Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. As another psalm says, some trust in horses and chariots (and other human weapons), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

What an appropriate time to join the Psalmist in saying (at .70): “Bless the Lord, O my soul. And let all that is within me bless his holy name!” (Psalm 103:1)

The fifth scripture (Psalm 119:105) celebrates the constant blessing of God’s word—which is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (1.01 mile).

We return to praise next with Psalm 135:3 (at 1.26), declaring the Lord’s goodness, knowing that it is pleasant to do so.

The seventh scripture in the path appears at mile 1.37 and is the longest quotation (from Psalm 18:32-35). Once again we remember that our hope and confidence are anchored in God, who arms us with strength and keeps our way secure.
#7 (Psalm 18)

The final two passages come from Paul’s writings. The first, Colossians 3:23 (in the context of addressing slaves), reminds us that whatever we do, we should work at it with full devotion, knowing it’s ultimately for the Lord. (at 1.47)
#8 (Col 3)

The final one, Ephesians 6:2-3, seems like an odd choice—a reminder of the fifth commandment to honor our father and mother—until you remember how many university students are on the path. Some come from wonderful, affirming, life-giving homes; others came from homes where shame and blame were the name of the game. But all of us have to learn ways to honor our parents. (at 1.79)
#9 (Eph 6)

Besides the passages in the sidewalk, there are engraved stones that I sometimes take in (depending on the pace!): 2 Chronicles 16:9 (at .43), John 3:16 (at .61), Proverbs 16:3 (at 1.37), and Romans 12:12 (also at 1.37).
Stone Engraving #4 (Romans 12)

On my second lap, I enjoy praying for the mission of Christ around the world nation-by-nation, with the help of the many banners that line the course. Even though many are for ACU promotional branding (including 34 of 42 which announce that “There’s a new cat in Division I”), the others bear the names of countries. I’ll choose one of the promotional banners to pray for students, faculty, and staff of the university. But then I pray for the other countries, including friends I know in some of them—like Antenor and Phyllis Goncalves (and others) in Brazil.

At the end of a second or third lap (full disclosure: if I do a third lap, I’m pretty focused on running; not much praying going on at this point), it’s a brief walk back to Jacob’s Dream to remember that in baptism I’ve been called to a new life, a new hope, a new mission in Jesus Christ.
Baptismal pool

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Laura Oldenburg permalink
    June 26, 2015

    Thanks Mike for sharing. During the 8 months we were back in Abilene for Don’s cancer treatment, walking that trail around ACU saved me in ways that I can’t even articulate . Some days I cried my way around as we faced side effects of chemo and radiation. Other days it was thanksgiving for relief and feel better times. The scriptures kept me focused on who carried us both. I am so very grateful for the Lunsford family and the architect of that trail. God knew I needed to be out in His creation and tied to him thru his words.

  2. Don Kleppe permalink
    June 26, 2015

    What a great idea! I’ve never noticed that.

  3. June 27, 2015

    Some days when I finish at the pool, I’ll dip my hand in and sprinkle a little water on myself. Just a reminder that my baptism (which was by immersion—just by way of clarification!) many years ago marked me as a Christ-follower, one who is restored and redirected.

  4. Tim Archer permalink
    June 30, 2015

    Thanks, Mike. I’ll walk the Lunsford with new eyes.

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