Run for Your Life!

I love the story of John Colter. He was an early American who travelled with Lewis and Clark as they explored the Louisiana Purchase. He was a rugged mountain man, who was the first European man to seek the marvels of Yellowstone and the Teton Mountain Range. He gained fame for the time he ran for his life. The above historical marker is located in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, (his place of birth), commemorating this run.

On one occasion, Colter was captured by hundreds of Blackfeet Indians, who stripped him naked (shoes and all) and were determined to kill him. However, rather than shoot him with arrows like a lame duck, they let him loose to run for it across the plain, like a fox in a foxhunt. After a few hundred yards head start, the Indian Chief released his tribe to pursue their prize.

Being a swift runner, Colter began to distance himself from the pursuing Indians, even though he was at a disadvangage, running with bare feet across the plain filled with prickly pear. After five miles of running, one of the Indians, spear in hand, was catching up to him. He was so close that Colter could hear his footsteps. Rather than being speared to death, Colter turned to face his pursuer, who was surprised and tripped to the ground, breaking his spear. Colter picked up the spear head and drove it through the Indian, killing him in the plain.

Less than a mile later, John Colter arrived at a river, where he found some cover under the cottonwood trees. To his good fortune, he noticed a small island in the river, where some driftwood had become lodged. So, he swam underneath the makeshift raft and found a pocket of air, where he was able to hide.

No sooner had Colter found his place of refuge, when the pack of Indians reached the river. They searched for him all day, but could not find him. At times, Colter could even see them through the cracks in the wood. Under the cover of nightfall, John Colter drifted downstream and eventually walked out of the river to safety.

However, his troubles were far from over. He was a seven-day’s walk to the nearest fort. He was completely naked, exposed to the burning sun. The soles of his feet were filled with thorns. He was hungry with no means to capture any game (though he saw many animals around him). He survived on breadroot called “Ground Potato.”  (Click here or here for more details about John Colter and his fascinating life).

As believers in Christ, we are also called to run for our lives.  “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Heb. 10:36).  The implication is clear:  if we don’t run with endurance, we won’t receive what was promised.  So “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

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