My children love to run . . . especially IN the house. This is by no means a punishable offense in the Hamilton home. In fact, our house is great for it. The kitchen is situated in the center of the downstairs so that my children can run laps from the front room, down the hall, around the corner of the family room, through the kitchen and to the front room again.
At the age of just 3, Joseph (now 5) created a game that has practically become a rite of passage in our home. He would run laps on the course mentioned above while yelling, amidst laughter, "Help me, I can't stop running!" Of course in no time the other children joined in. It is truly a favorite way of my children to expend a little extra of their unending energy.
A couple weeks ago I was sharing with a dear friend over a cup of coffee how when I see them running and laughing and chanting this phrase, I think of Elijah. He walked so very many miles for God, but he ran also. God strengthened him to outrun Ahab's horse drawn chariot at a distance estimated to be about 16 miles. (My friend wondered if Elijah actually had the thought during this very long run of, "Help me, I can't stop running!"!!! ~ what a great thought!)
Many of us want to have such zeal for our Lord that when He privileges us with a task for Him, we run to do it. (Strikingly opposed to the description of feet who run to evil and are eager for destruction in Proverbs 1. With an over-abundance of feet who hastily run to evil, we should desire to have feet that run to good and are eager to do God's will.) And in running, we want to "run and not grow weary" Isaiah 40:31. God's word tells us to do this:
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
1 Cor. 9:24-25 Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize. Every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for one that will last forever.
And while this is encouraging and motivating (at least to me anyway) I was reminded by another friend this morning that it is essential to rest. Elijah was a go-getter in every aspect of the term. But he rested also. God Himself orchestrated and even forced Elijah into times of much needed rest (at the brook and with the widow, the 40 day journey and Mt. Horeb).
David ran, but David also rested. And the most beautiful of Psalms and praise in our Bible came from both . . . times of resting and times of running.
Paul, Jeremiah, Abraham, Daniel, Jesus - - they all rested.
Running can be fun! (especially if it involves no shoes and socks that slide on the wooden floor!). But running is too exhausting if we're trying to run on our own strength. And even running by the power of God's strength, we all need rest. We're invited by Christ Himself to rest.
Resting accomplishes great things . . . it renews our strength (a prerequisite to running), it gives a much needed fresh perspective, it is a time of focus, adoration and intimacy with our Lord, it is a time of restoring our soul and healing, and it is a time of learning.