Up until three years ago I ran almost every day, logging nearly 42,000 miles in 34 years.
The most miles in a single year came in 2009 when, at 51, I broke my personal best of 2,051, set 20 years earlier.
Back then, I routinely threw my sweat-soaked running clothes into the dryer, to dry, rather than washing them, so they'd be ready to put on the next day when it came time to run.
Waiting for the weekend to do the wash only made sense as it saved both time and water. Besides, why wash the same clothes during the week if they are just going to get all sweaty again the next day, right?
True, the clothes may not have smelled that great, but I wasn't looking for a running partner.
One winter day thirty years ago, I came back inside the house after an hour's run. As usual, I tossed my sweat-soaked sweats, hoodie, sockcap, and gloves into the dryer so they'd be ready the next evening.
When evening came, I opened the dryer to grab my clothes, thinking I'd be on my way in minutes. Those minutes turned into a good half-hour, as everything thrown into the dryer the previous day was there, except one glove.
Where was it? It had to be there. Meticulously I shook out the clothes, looked and felt all up and down inside the dryer. Nothing! Was it on the floor? Nope. Still, I was determined to run. So, I put on an old, worn-out glove that didn't match.
The next day when I opened the dryer to retrieve my clothes, the first thing I saw was the missing glove lying on top of them! How it got there remains a mystery.
The saying, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away," is derived from Job 1:21, after the servant whom God had richly blessed received word that he'd lost everything--all of his tremendous wealth, even his 10 children, to a series of untimely disasters.
These things happened as a test to see if Job would remain faithful to the Lord.
The test even struck him physically, as he was forced to endure painful boils over his whole body. Job still had his wife, but all she did was try to discourage him.
His prolonged ordeal had caused Job to doubt himself, but never God. His faith prevailed amidst the anguish he suffered.
We've often heard the victims of storms whose homes have been destroyed speak positively of the future: "We may have lost everything, but we still have each other." Then, they add, "We can always build back."
This is the kind of faith God seeks from His people. God rewarded Job by giving back twice the wealth he'd lost. Job even fathered 10 more children, and lived to be 140.
The incident with the glove came at a time when my faith was being tested in a big way. It was as though God was saying, "That which kept you warm will be taken from you, but only for a while. If you have faith, the thing you seek will return to you in due time."
And it did!
When tested to the point of loss, we must dry our tears, make the necessary adjustments, and continue living with the knowledge that God is always faithful; that He will keep His promise of not withholding from us--indefinitely--any good thing.
-Mark Edmondson, Neosho, writes a monthly faith column for The Neosho Daily News.