The snow didn’t stop Ron Forseth from his ritual one recent morning.
He bundled up at his Colorado Springs home and off he went for a walk. This particular walk was a couple of miles — a daily minimum, according to his goals. It’s typically longer in his pursuit of 100 miles every month.
Forseth is an ultra walker, walking such distances as the Kansas border to the top of Pikes Peak. This spanned 186 miles over seven days, about 55 miles more than his first long walk following the California coast.
“Frankly, I’ve struggled with depression over the years,” Forseth says. “And walking alleviates that for me. It helps wash my soul.”
Something else helps, something else part of his morning routine. This one comes first, before breakfast and the walk.
At first light, Forseth cracks open his Bible and reads a chapter of Proverbs. He tries to recruit a new reading partner every month, someone with whom to share thoughts and receive thoughts that never occurred to him. He’ll shoot over a text or email, then he’ll move on to breakfast.
This practice is the focus of a new devotional book Forseth co-authored with friend Dan Britton, “The Wisdom Challenge: Experiencing the Life-Changing Power of Proverbs.”
For Forseth, wisdom is another daily pursuit. He describes himself “unabashedly obsessed with wisdom.” Where his legs serve one purpose, the words of Proverbs serve another — “like hidden treasures,” he’s found.
He recalls them indeed hiding from him until March 1, 2012.
Also at that point, Forseth considered his heart “dry as a dirt clod,” he writes in “The Wisdom Challenge.” He prayed, he says, to a God he felt far from.
Then Forseth turned to Proverbs, starting with chapter one, which introduces the book as a set of “sayings and riddles of the wise.”
Forseth would come to know Proverbs as “spiritual food” before breakfast. And it occurred to him, ever the numbers guy, that there were 31 chapters — one for every day of most months.
After his first month, Forseth invited Britton to join him in daily digging of Proverbs. So began a “wisdom tree,” as the men have come to call it. Approaching his 108th month of the “Wisdom Challenge” — that’s how many times he’s read all 31 chapters — Forseth counts 185 branches, or reading partners.
A speaker, writer and chief field officer with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Britton had read Proverbs before. But with Forseth, Proverbs “felt so new,” he reflects in “The Wisdom Challenge.” The partnership “brought new insights,” Britton writes. “New principles. New lessons. New takeaways.”
Such is “the power of with,” the authors explain. They point to Proverbs 13: “Walk with the wise and become wise.”
They shrug off the wise title in the first pages of “The Wisdom Challenge.” It was something Forseth says worried him about the book concept his friend pitched him:
“It is dangerous business for anybody to look at someone as some sort of source of wisdom,” Forseth says. “We are not pointing people to us as some gurus or storehouse of wisdom. The storehouse is the book of Proverbs.”
While resistant at first, Forseth decided the book could be “a catalytic element to get more people doing the challenge.” To get them discovering the treasures he’s found.
A favorite from chapter three on wisdom: “(N)othing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.” Long life, prosperity, peace — among several promises of Proverbs listed in “The Wisdom Challenge.”
Forseth finds that list growing every month.
“My goal or my hope is that I can go through Proverbs 500 times,” he says. “If I do, I’ll be 92 or something like that.”
And his walks might still be long.