I hate running. It hurts. So why do I run?
I run because I have a gazillion things to do every day. I run because everyone else seems to run and I get caught in the current of busy.
Busy. Busy. Busy.
We are all so busy.
Sometimes I feel more machine than human. More like a factory with as little down time as possible, except when this body must sleep.
I am the product of the Industrial Age. Aren’t we all in our culture?
Like being busy makes us so important, so useful, so wanted.
I hate the lie.
All the demands of life can leave me in a tizzy mentally and worn out physically.
Sure, some of the demands are self-imposed and important. Like my husband, my kids, my other family and friends and all their legitimate needs. All these people I love are wonderful gifts who deserve my time and energy.
And then there are some other choices.
My husband and I chose to move to the country—to a horse farm—known to be therapeutic for kids with disabilities. It is. It has been a positive place not only for our family but for many others over the years. But we’re also twenty-minute drive from any decent grocery store (sorry to the “Half-Pig” in town— the FULL Piggy Wiggly being 20 minutes away—but you don’t carry things like bok choy and spring mix and French baguettes freshly baked). Just sayin’!
And then there are all those other necessary stores like Target, TJ Maxx (f0r all us “fashionistas”!), PETSMART (for those like me who can’t say “no” to the animals-in-need), and Home Depot (light bulbs and such) also a twenty-minute drive.
I forgot COSTCO, my go-to for everything in quantity. That’s thirty minutes away, the other direction.
And every single physician, dentist, orthodontist, hospital, speech therapist (a BFF Jennifer Eggert!), occupational therapist, physical therapist, reading specialist, etc.) is at LEAST twenty minutes away! And two of our three “of-age” kids can’t drive so I have an invisible TAXI sign on the top of my car, lit all the time. Can’t you see it?!
So I’m out in the country acting like the chickens who live and die around here. You know . . .
Running, running, running!
Busy, busy, busy!
No brain. No eyes.
Just emptying out the last of themselves before they drop over, dead on the dusty ground.
Too often, sadly, that’s me.
I’m a chicken on a chopping block—a fish on a hook—a ‘possum in a trap.
I’m caught in our culture’s judgment of what makes humans most worthwhile, bound tight in a sucking whirlpool pulling me down, spinning me around, faster and faster still. My soul is sick from the concoction of cultural message and social example.
My soul screams . . .
STOP with the cell phone!
STOP with the laptop!
STOP with anything and everything God has not called me to DO!
STOP with all the pushes and pulls, the menacing morass that does violence to our souls!
One of old . . .
Though not Catholic, their tradition provided me with an idea . . .
Many centuries ago, a bell tolled thrice daily—the Angelus bell. The ring summoned the people to prayer.
Still today, some Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans still stop, three times daily, and pray.
Though a Presbyterian, I joined their ranks.
I decided to be like-minded and like-willed.
I carved more time out of every single day to STOP . . .
and be quiet . . .
and still . . .
I’ve found that I need more than my once-in-the-morning, Evangelically-inspired “quiet time”.
As the world speeds up, I feel the need to slow down.
So I’m stopping.
And I’m letting myself breathe deeply and take in spiritual refreshing that seeps into my soul— slowly— drip-by-drip—calming my body and mind.
One thing I know . . .
I don’t do well when I’m RUNNING with God, thinking he’s tagging along behind, me in the lead.
In my worst, I run through my days, shooting up little prayers here and there, mostly HELP ME or HELP HIM/HER or HELP THEM. prayers in the car.
But if that’s all I do, I end up dry and desperate and downright depressed. Because non-reciprocal relationships are not true relationships.
What does God think? What does God want? How does God feel about the way we run our days?
Sometimes God calls us to run with him. Most times we choose to run without hearing him calling us at all. Most times we run after our own needs to fill holes in our souls, plugging them up with everything and anything but God.
I, for one, have found that I can’t live in daily spaces where I run dry, ground into the ground, without being tapped into the constant undercurrent of Living Water. I’m not a cactus like the many I saw in Arizona last week while visiting my father.
I can’t survive long with just a ten minute sip of God and the Bible in the morning. And who, the pastor asked from our pulpit on Sunday, has even spent TEN MINUTES in the entire past week drinking from God’s word—praying, listening?
And we wonder why we have such existential angst in our world today?
Our greatest threat to body, mind, and soul in these terrorized days is disconnection from Jesus and his Word.
“I am the true vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you will wither.” John 15:5-6
Though Jesus promised to never leave or forsake us, we leave him all the time. We go through our days harried and worried, terrified, not tapping into the well of abundance available through prayer— reading the Bible and talking with Jesus, our Living Word.
Our greatest threat today isn’t external. Our greatest threat today is not KNOWING and BELIEVING and DOING God’s Word. How can we satisfy our souls if we don’t stop running and taking time for a good long drink of THE WORD? (John 1:1)
That’s why I have stopped running.
That’s why I am taking time, making time, all throughout each of my God-given days to STOP and drink up Jesus, wherever I am.
(Specifics? If thirsty, you’ll find them at the end of this post.)
Even though we live in a fast-paced world getting dizzier and crazier and more terrorized by the moment, we can STOP ourselves from drowning in the whirlpool of frenzy and worry.
Connection with God is our sanity.
Jesus IS our peace. (Ephesians 2:14)
Let Jesus be US!
Jesus IS — US, his followers, the antidote to ISIS, even if we are martyred for our faith. The end of this life is the beginning of the next, for those of us who have placed our faith in Christ.
Who will join me in becoming counter-cultural, stopping and listening and joining — with Jesus — to accomplish HIS agenda — specified in HIS word — that we can take in — freely — without fear — at least in this present moment?
Just do it. (The swoosh company speaks some truth!)
All you have to lose is your anxiety.
All you have to gain is God himself.
All you have to do is give into Jesus — our all in all. Let him give you ALL you need. All the world needs.
Love. Truth. Peace.
28 days to form a new habit and transform your life:
- Get up before everyone else. Read God’s Word. What part? Start with the Gospel of John. Read slow and think about every line. Question Jesus about it. Ask Jesus how it applies to your life. Listen. Even if you think you can’t hear, Jesus will answer. Jesus will transform you as long as you keep seeking him.
- What particular verse stands out to you? Write it down on an index card. Keep it with you and when you have a few moments (waiting in line, sitting at a red light) read, drink, absorb.
- Carve out three times a day, even if it’s five minutes. Morning. Noon. Night. Sit down. Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Open God’s word and drink some more. Quality over quantity. Breathe in (take God’s word in) and breathe out. Talk with God by asking questions, praying for help to understand and applying his balm of truth on all your angst. Receive what our soul craves.
- Notice the difference just a little attention to your soul makes. Tell others. Pass on the goodness of God!