The other morning I went running. But please don’t mistake me for a “runner.” The last time I went running and was not being chased by something was 3 years ago. But my exercise routine is changing, so I got up about 6:10am, slipped into my secondhand Adidas that are a half to full size too big and head out for a run.
It was not took long into my run before I started think and gasp for my next breath. The former is more important than the latter. My initial thought was that I wanted the music I was playing to be loud enough so I could not hear my own foot steps as they crashed against the gavel on the HighLine Canal Trail. I cranked up the volume so I could not hear my own foot step in the hopes that I would not be reminded by each step of what I was actually doing…running.
But then I started to think about running as a metaphor for the distance that can grow between a person and God.* It dawned on me that running can be like our attempts to leave God and go our own direction according to our own desires.
When I think about it I don’t believe people want to be reminded that their sin is actually running from God. Our own foot steps can be haunting remainders of what we are actually doing; rebelling against a God who loves and cares for us.
The more we run form God the easier it gets. The last time I went running (a few days earlier) I about died. My lungs burned, my right knee ached and when I got home I passed out on the couch. Debra, my wife, asked how it went. I told her it was HORRIBLE! But the second time I headed out for jog (this morning) it was easier. Running from God becomes easier the more we do it. We become conditioned to the emotion associated with leaving him behind. As we grow stronger. We become more determined out pace his love. Each time we run from God makes the next that much more familiar.
And because each time is easier and because we are growing stronger in our resolve to live life on our terms, we find each run leads farther from home. Each run is testing the distance on how far and how fast we can go. We are pushing ourselves to our limits. Experimenting. Expanding our horizons. “Feeling our oats,” if you will.
The only problem is the farther we run from God, the longer the trip home takes. Oh yes, God is always ready to forgive and show mercy. But depending on how far we run, determines consequences. The ramifications of our distance running will have greater implications. And lets be honest, some of these consequences are the reason we keep running. We can’t bring ourselves to turn around and face the miles we have placed between God and ourselves, so we just plod on.
It’s only when we are so far gone that our only hope of survival is to lift our head from mesmerizing gaze of the trail we have been mindlessly following to break the cadence of our pounding feet recognizing we have reached the end. The end of our path. The of ourselves. The end our strength and our desire to keep running.
But, the truth has to be started too. The farther we run from home the sweeter the homecoming. And oddly enough the run home never feels as hard or as long as the run away. That’s called grace.
After a loooong run (which I have not experienced physically, but spiritually), it feels good to come home rest, refuel and cleaned up. The same is true (and possible) with God in Christ. But we have to admit we started running from God in the first place only to stop running away from him and start running towards him.
*My sincerest apologies to all avid runner for this comparison.