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. (John 20:3-4)
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 mean, pesky childhood communication 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 I’m also not sure I care to know. I came from a stable and loving family. I didn’t experience any form of childhood violence or neglect. 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 discuss 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. We sat quietly watching everyone one else on the playground run around and we were content.
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 twelve minute marker. Gag. It was anxiety producing and embarrassing.
At 14, I decided to face my fear of running head on. I joined the track team and ran the 400. By the end of approximately three weeks, I embraced a new general life rule – 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, and 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.
Then this Easter, while 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 contemplated whether God’s grace could be in the running. With Christ, was it possible to stop running from something, and start running toward 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 plans in His own time, not mine. 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.
I can certainly walk to the tomb? There’s was no need to take up running as a hobby to cement my relationship with Christ.
However, for me running represented fear. Running was closely connected to my anxiety over life and worth and God.
Jesus offered me a new gift long ago that day in college and then connected all the dots one Easter morning, March 2016:
I was made to run to Him – no matter the darkness or the daylight, the sorrow or the unexpected sweetness.
What anxieties surround you? Jesus’ Word and His empty tomb always offer healing, sometimes in very specific ways. Where are you in need of healing?
Run to Him. Run, run, run.
Let His grace seep into every little place. Then, take a breath and rest in His presence and be assured of His marvelous mercy.