For someone who has been enduring arthritic knees since age 12, I’m a pretty good runner—albeit on a different track. Of late I’ve been catching myself on the run. The sweating and the panting are never outwardly evident; but when I pause and reflect, I find my heart’s pulse rapid and my spirit’s limbs cramping. There is no mistaking it—I’m sprinting. Like crazy.
Escaping is the more accurate word, really.
But, escaping from what? A lot of things—most of which I can identify with certainty, while some remain phantoms, perceptible only through the anxiety they inflict. These unwanted “things” seem so many that the escape route from one could be the shortcut to another. I turn my back to run away from Point A only to screech to a halt when I realize I’m headed straight to Point B (where I’d also rather not be). In panicked self-preservation I change course and aim for Point C—but who knows if Point C is any safer? It could well be another destination to avoid, to escape from…
It’s maddening—this running, this escaping. There is hardly any time to catch my breath. The frenetic dash wearies the soul. Although the fatigue it begets is a welcome anesthetic, it is not potent enough to delude me into thinking that the escape is the answer. I am well aware that I cannot outrun these “things.” Running away may bring temporary respite and provide precious little space and time to disengage and regroup. But no limbs, especially those of the spirit, can endure running away forever. They are meant for nobler things—like standing up, trembling knees and all, and striding courageously to face life’s giants.
I will have to stop running at some point, turn back around and face the very things that had precipitated this mad flight in the first place. Identified or phantom, familiar or faceless, the giants need to be confronted. I’ve done it before. And I didn’t do it alone. I yearn for grace once again to rest in the truth that I have an Advocate. That even when my faithlessness causes me to run, there is One who, in love, keeps abreast with me, whose arms are long and strong to secure this restless, fearful creature.
The most tragic thing I can do is try to run away from Him (and maybe I am doing that now). The wisest is to be running to Him, just like a little child to his father. Just like I used to.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139.7-11 (New International Version)