Monday, February 24, 2014


I am a runner.  I love being able to say that.  I love it because for so long I had such great admiration for runners, but looked on enviously from afar.  You know those runners - charging effortlessly down the road, looking relaxed and energised, like what they are doing is as simple & natural as breathing?  And the endurance runners – those crazy ultramarathon runners who do epic runs across intensely hot deserts, or over treacherous mountains for days on end & upon reaching the finish line already have their sights on the next big adventure?  Something about that appeals to me.  I have to admit, at present I’m not even close.  I’ve been running for almost a year & only just completed my first 10 k a few weeks back.  And truth be told, as much as I’m desperate to get back out there,  I’ve barely managed more than a brisk walk since.  Gammy knees.  Enough said.  But I AM a runner.  And I will get back out there soon.

In regards to our journey of faith, Hebrews 12 vs 1 talks about running with perseverance ‘the race marked out for us’.     

A few years ago, I really felt like I had reached a point in my faith where I wasn’t running toward anything, I wasn’t even walking.  I was at a standstill.  Nothing was happening.  I wasn’t growing or developing.  When I spent some time reflecting on it, I knew that if I wanted to grow in my relationship with God,  I needed to trust Him more. Let Him in a little bit closer.  And that freaked me out.  I wasn’t running towards God.  If anything I was running from Him.  Around that time, I wrote this.

I am running from you.
I used to stand & fight.
Ready & watching because of the rage
But underneath the fury was fear
And now there is just quiet
People think the swift run towards a goal
But a new pace is found
when there are things you’re running from
And I know if I wait a while
in this silence, you’ll speak
I know you’ll ask me to know you;
might ask me to trust
For now I’m going to run
singing loudly, fingers in ears.
For now I’m going to run with the quiet & my fear.

Whenever my husband is in conversation with someone, & it emerges that they are a runner he always asks (cheekily), ‘So, what are you running from?’ 

What was I running from?

Intimacy.  That word  . . .  I used to find it so awkward & uncomfortable - actually it repulsed me.  Intimacy.   When I think about what that word means in the ideal sense – it is a closeness with a person that is genuine and shared.  A mutual trust and surrender.  It cannot be forcefully given or taken.  That’s my understanding of it, anyway.  It should be this beautiful thing.  But in my mind it wasn’t.  Once, I couldn’t hear that word without negative connotations springing to mind.   The whole idea of surrendering myself to someone else did not sit comfortably with me.  I had my reasons.  But that didn’t help my predicament. 
I really wanted to grow, to be more mature in my faith – to know God on a deeper level.  But I knew that if I wanted to do that, then I also needed to learn to trust Him more.  & that was my problem.  For years I battled – wanting our relationship to grow, not wanting to totally let go or surrender.  At one point I may have recklessly stated, ‘Just do what it takes,’ & then instantly regretted that fleeting moment of insanity.  I sat stubbornly in that place for a long time. 

Sometimes when my small, wild baby is having a tantrum, she kicks and writhes, and holds herself stiff, then throws herself back.  She is in crazy fighting, attack mode.  She will not allow me near.  Finally, exhausted, she relents & in that moment of surrender, she allows herself to be swept up in my arms & drawn close as I comfort her.  I wanted that too.  I knew it must be good.  But I just couldn’t let down my defences.

We all respond to painful experiences differently.  Keeping myself ‘safe’ was my priority.  And keeping myself safe meant keeping everyone at a comfortable distance, including God.  That actually works, in a dysfunctional kind of way,  IF you can maintain control & if you’re happy with superficial, shallow relationships.  The ‘problem’ is that we are made for intimacy with God.  Right back at the start of the Story, the Bible talks about how God walked in the garden where Adam & Eve lived.  That’s not a God who is distant & removed. When He made us, He made us for relationship with Him, & He wanted us to want to know Him too. 

I longed for a closer relationship with God, & in my head I knew He wanted more of me, to KNOW me.  But in my heart, I didn’t really believe that.  I felt like I was just a number to Him.   At the risk of sounding irreverent;  that He just wanted another adoring fan. & I didn’t trust Him.  I longed for Him, but it was too overwhelming. . . I was ok though.  I had my kids & my husband.  They brought meaning to my life that I’d never known before.  As long as I didn’t think about it too much, I was ok. 

I remember attending a wedding.  The couple made their vows.  They spoke of ‘completing one another’.  Last year, a friend shared about how she could not function without her husband, her life would be over if anything ever happened to him.  I see people who put their whole lives into their kids.  We need to find some meaning.  We long to be loved and known intimately.  We are looking in the wrong place.  People will always let us down.  They can never always be our everything.  Sooner or later we find that out.  And then what? 

Last year I was faced with losing someone close to me, someone I ‘needed’.  It brought me to a crisis point.  What was life without this person?  It forced me to re-evaluate my intimacy with God.  Forced me to confront that uncomfortable concept.   Could He be everything to me?  All I needed?  Could I allow myself to be ‘known’ by Him?  What was the alternative? It forced me to evaluate why I was holding back, what I was fearful of.  I had to do some digging to get beneath those layers of what I was supposed to believe as a good Christian, to find out what I truly believed as Meg.  
Like most people, important human relationships had shaped how I saw God & myself in relation to Him.  I was His child in the sense that I was one of many children, I was just a number, insignificant, ‘unspecial’ and unseen.  It took a special lady’s gentle guidance & a terrifying toddler step of faith to accept that ‘You . . . have loved them even as You love Me’ (John 17 vs 23b).  The idea that God loves me as He loves His Son.  A Son who was His beloved, with Whom He was ‘well pleased’.  Valued, unique, special, and SEEN.  And known.  Outrageous!  Preposterous!!  True.

Many years ago, a wonderful & wise man told me that I needed to experience a ‘paradigm shift’.  At the time, I couldn’t even remotely grasp what he meant (it would have been helpful to know what those words meant!)  When I took that terrifying toddler step, I experienced that ‘paradigm shift’ & it blew me away.  It has brought a freedom that I could never have hoped to have experienced.  It is an ongoing process.  I gabble away to God every day, yet sometimes when I think of Who I am talking to, it is almost unbearable, I am overcome with awe & fear.  I withdraw, unable to continue. 

It’s a process, this letting go & surrendering.  I’m running the race.  Sometimes not very quickly.  Sometimes I’m just kinda jogging on the spot.  But I AM a runner and I’m running to Him.