So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
When I was a little girl I had a lot of bad dreams. A lot of bad dreams. It seemed like anything could lead to a nightmare – someone talking about ghost stories, a scary movie preview on primetime television, or a bully’s threat at school.
In most of my nightmares, I was running. Running from something, trying to get somewhere, out of breath, exhausted, tripping over branches and divots of grass and hidden treachery. As I laid in my bed, the branches scrapping the window signaled someone trying to get me, I came up with infinite excuses for drinks of water and extra hugs, mostly I imagined what would come for me in my dreams that night.
I’m sure there is a psychological explanation for all of this, but honestly I’m not sure I care to know. I came from a stable and loving family. I didn’t experience any form of abuse. The real curse was my extremely overactive imagination.
What I do know is that I hated to run for years. I saw it as a punishment inflicted to my body and soul. At recess my best friend and I would sit on swings and hash over our current favorite book reads and imagine what we would do when we were grown up – anything from European princesses, to journalists, to doctors curing disease. Watching everyone one else on the playground run around us.
Running the mile in gym class…pure torture. “Why would anyone ask this of awkward adolescents?” I complained. I circled around that track four times and consistently came in at my 12 minute marker. Gag. It was anxiety producing and embarrassing.
At 14, I decided to face my running “fear” head on. I joined track and ran the 400 for about 3 weeks. By the end of which I embraced my new general life rule of – Why spend time doing something you hate so much?
And so I didn’t. I quit, but unbeknownst to me I began simultaneously running in another way, looking and searching. I ran to everything else, instead of what I really needed to be running to… that empty tomb, that risen Savior. I ran to be the best academically. I ran to boys that I thought might love me. I ran to adventures and folly and anything that hinted of excitement.
So, this Easter, sitting in the pew listening to my husband speak the Word, these verses jumped out to me.
“Both of them were running together…”
“The other disciple outran Peter…”
Instantly in my head I could see myself in those disciples running toward something that mattered. I realized that God’s grace was in the running. That with Christ, I was no longer running from something, but I was invited to run towards something.
I remember one glorious spring day in college, my husband-to-be flippantly asked me to go for a run with him. We weren’t dating, I’m not even sure at that point I was interested in him. God reveals all that good stuff in His time. But I was shocked to hear my own tongue say, “Sure. Meet you in 15 minutes in the Triangle.”
Looking back, Dave was safe. His gracious spirit and tongue that constantly dripped words of encouragement, spoke grace in my life in a way that was new and fresh and sent me running to find an empty tomb, a unneeded burial cloth, a new day.
Who has been that person in your life? Who has spoken Jesus afresh to you in this season of your life?
Can you walk to the tomb? Of course. No need to take up running as a hobby to cement your relationship with Christ. That’s not the point of this message. The point is, for me running was fear. Running was anxiety. And Jesus offered me gifts beyond what I could even see, which He revealed this Easter day, March 2016. I was made to run to Him, no matter the darkness or the daylight, the sorrow or the unexpected sweetness.
Jesus’s Word, His empty tomb always offers healing, sometimes in very specific ways. Where are you in need of healing? What anxieties surround you? Run them to Him. Run, run, run. Let His grace seep in to every little place. And then rest in His presence. Assured of His marvelous mercy.