Several months ago I was told a story about a little three-year-old girl who, while at church, pulled away from a group of people, ran down the aisle, past the rows of pews, then jumped into her aunt’s arms. Finally feeling safe, she looked her aunt in the eyes and said, “I run away.” When she didn’t want to deal with all the people talking to her or whatever was making her uncomfortable, she simply ran to a safe place and said, “I run away.”
I cannot tell you how many times I have said that (mostly as a joke) since I heard that story. But in the last seven months, I have felt it deeply!
For me personally, it started with a breakup right before COVID hit in March. Then my roommate and I abandoned our spring break road trip plans, a relative of mine passed away, we lost a family pet, and on and on it went as everything we lost to the coronavirus began to add up. The old saying goes “when it rains, it pours.” And sometimes when it pours, all my brain says is, “I run away.”
At least that’s the seemingly easy way to look at it.
The reality is, we can’t run away. No matter where we run, we will find problems and issues and hurt and pain (and we will still probably hear about COVID no matter how hard we try to ignore it). Where, then, do we run? In whom will we find our refuge and security? There is so much of God and His incredible grace and mercy to be found in these hardships. We don’t need to run away from our problems, we simply need to run to Him and run with our eyes on Him.
Hebrews 12:1–2 says,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The chapter prior to these verses mentions several great biblical heroes who are examples for us to look toward. Their lives bear witness to the faithfulness of God to His people, even when we are less than faithful to Him. The author of Hebrews starts out with the word “Therefore,” referencing what was talked about in chapter eleven: because we can see their stories and read the testimonies of what God had done for them, we have a great confidence that God will be faithful to us! In light of that promise, we should lay aside everything that keeps us from pursuing Christ.
Everything. Every weight. Every sin. Every burden. Every heartbreak. Every loss during our school year. Every missed basketball or football game. Every lost opportunity. Every burden we feel while having to work from home. Every guideline and restriction that keeps us from living life the way we want to. Everything.
Laying aside all of that with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, we run to Him. Paul says in Philippians 3:13–14, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Christ is the prize. He is worth pressing on toward! He is worth pursuing with everything we have.
Life isn’t easy! However, as followers of Christ, we have a great call to persevere through the challenges. We are called to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. When we do that, when we keep Christ at the center and continue to pursue Him with all we have in every season, we come out on the other side looking more and more like Him.