“What are you running from?”
This was yelled at me once in college, just as a was finishing a few miles on an extremely humid day.
At the time, in my out of breathe, sweating, verge of death state, the only response I could think of was a series of words, several of which rhymed with bass or duck. Sorry, but one of my weakness is obnoxious exercise onlooker guy. You’re not at a zoo, dude. Just nod and let me get out of your way.
Since that day, however, I have often asked myself, ‘what are you running from?’ Turns out, my best answer so far — me.
Not today me, yesterday me. Old me. The me who was lazy and didn’t take care of himself to the point of shredding an ACL multiple times on basketball courts. Most of the time, I’m running to keep that guy from catching up with me.
Of course there have been other times when I haven’t been running from something, but have been running towards something. A time, a distance, a goal.
Now I honestly don’t think I run any harder in these situations, I may even run slower, but I do think it’s a more enjoyable experience. Heck, even a single run is kind of a microcosm of this. I mean that last mile, running to the end, is always much more enjoyable than running away from the starting line.
Running to something is just more fun than running away from something, hence how all those $60 runs through mud and fire are cashing in.
In all honesty, when I first became a Christian it was because I didn’t want to go to Hell. Simply as that. I wanted to run away from Hell and found Jesus could supply me with the proper running attire.
Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, I would say running from Hell is an idea most of us can get behind and a fine motivation for looking into Christianity.
I do think, however, that running from Hell is not nearly as an enjoyable experience as running to Jesus. Spending your time focused on staying out of a fiery pit of emptiness isn’t nearly as much fun as being focused on getting to know who Jesus really was.
It’s kind of like driving to Islands of Adventure and the whole time being consumed with avoiding a wreck rather than thinking about the fact that you are hours away from riding the freaking Incredible Hulk roller coaster. (Ride it at night, front seat, trust me.)
Yeah, either way you’re running. Either way you’re bettering yourself. But investing in Christianity simply to avoid Hell just isn’t as fun as investing in it to get to know Jesus.
I think Jesus knew this. I think that’s probably why we see Jesus often telling folks to come to him and rarely see him talk of avoiding or running from Hell.
Not I’m not saying the two motivations are mutually exclusive, let’s be real, I can run to my house and be running from “old me” at the same time. The two motivations can coexist, but there is a difference between the two and I think identifying the difference can greatly impact the enjoyment of the run. You may still get to the same place in the end, but it can make getting their a lot more fun.