I do not come from a family of runners. In fact, in my extended family if anyone said they were “going to run to the store,” it was understood that they were driving the car to get there! That is why when my oldest decided to take up running I was incredulous. “Running . . . really?!!!” It has been several years and she is still at it. In fact, we are vacationing together and this morning when I found my way upstairs for some coffee Kara came in from running “just under five miles . . . .” Am I proud of her (and ever so slightly jealous?) You bet!
While I do not come from a family of runners, I do know about another kind of running: Running Scared. How about you? There are times in life when most of us have been run by fear or doubt. But how we handle fear is what makes Christians distinctive in facing the dangers of a fallen world. The Scriptures counsel that the only healthy fear in life is “the fear of the Lord.” (Proverbs 9:10) Otherwise, while the Bible recognizes that we live in a scary world, God’s own are admonished throughout the Old and the New Testaments to not give way to fear. So how are we to react when we’re facing trials or are suddenly overwhelmed by fear?
- Recognize there is a problem. Life is full of all sorts of problems, large and small. The problem with running scared is that it is so one-sided. When we run scared, we’re mostly running from what frightens us, but rarely do we have a place we are running to.
- Remember that you are not alone. Jesus urges, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Pray . . . thank Him that you are not alone and that He loves you.
- Run to the One who cares about you and will help you with your problem. Whatever you may be facing it is no surprise to God. He encourages us as He tends to our hearts saying, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
- Resolve to handle the problem with His wisdom and encouragement.
It was in a trying situation, when I wanted to run scared, that I discovered the wisdom and encouragement of Isaiah 30:15-18. At the time, I felt like I was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz; when her Auntie Em’s house was ripped from its foundation and was flying through the air. Like Dorothy, everything that flew around me took on a bizarre twist until the house finally landed with an almost imperceptible “thunk.” Verse 15 served as the “thunk” that set my mind and heart straight:This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
There it is, God’s prescription for just about every problem we face. Our response to such wisdom? Sadly, a total mess-up:” . . . but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
There I was, feeling totally alone . . . convicted about my foolish desire to run. As I reflected on God’s call to “repentance and rest . . . quietness and trust . . . salvation . . . strength . . .” I felt my soul being tended to like nothing else could. A quietness of mind and heart settled over me as I took my focus off myself and was honest with God. “Yes Lord, my sin is great but You are greater still. Help me to trust and honor you rather than run away.”
It is in that place of loneliness that we recognize the pit of despair where no one wants to live. It is a place fraught with anxiety and without hope. Even so, it is a place where redemption is near for all who cry out to God for the help they need. He waits ready and willing:
Tired of running? Not sure where to go from here? Take it from someone who has faced fear at many levels and can say with complete confidence . . . He is worthy of your trust! So, what are you waiting for?!!
All to His Glory!