I recently started another year at UCSB. There’s something about having a clean slate during the first few days of fall quarter that spurs people into attempting to adopt better study habits, which they hope will become routine by June. Consider it a time for academic New Year’s resolutions.
In the first two weeks of the quarter, I’ve noticed that nearly everyone in my literature classes has diligently completed the assigned readings on time. By week 5, however, it’s guaranteed that some will soon be quietly sitting with blank stares during class, not exactly sure what’s going on. As resolutions go, not everyone sticks it out through thick and thin.
The fresh wave of starting anew has especially hit me this year, probably because I’m aware it’s my last go-round before graduating and I don’t want to leave anything on the table. The same sense of renewal has seeped into my spiritual life as well.
I’m usually one who holds off getting ready in the mornings until the last minute, and when I’m rushing out the door prayer is the last thing on my mind. However, this year (the first eight school days and counting) I’ve formed the habit of getting up just a little bit earlier, pausing before I pick up the car keys, and pulling out my little “Prayerbook for Students.”
My favorite one to reflect on is called “Are you Running With Me, Jesus?” The prayer resonates not just because it appeals to non-morning people everywhere, but because it’s a reminder of the simple fact that God is right beside us throughout the day, no matter what.
As Pastor James has preached to us recently, we know that we are to “walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). Walking symbolizes a lifelong steadiness in our faith and relationship with the Lord. At some points in life, however, that walk breaks into a run.
When a load of tasks and responsibilities drop like a ton of bricks on our shoulders, the first instinct – at least for me – is to put it off for as long as possible whilst simultaneously stressing about it. As soon as the pace of life quickens, we sometimes become almost too overwhelmed to ask God for help. I just need to stop being lazy and work harder, we might say, rationalizing that God shouldn’t see us in such a state, especially if we put ourselves there.
Finding a good running partner is hard. If someone is willing to walk by our side all throughout this life and even into eternity, should we really doubt His readiness to pick up the pace and keep in step when we have a lot going on? Besides, Jesus doesn’t just walk or run with us, he leads us “beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2).
In short, don’t be like those students in the back of the class with the glazed looks in their eyes – the ones who had come across a busy patch in their journey and chose to give up rather than keep up. Instead of collapsing into ourselves by running away from our problems, run towards them with the One who understands and has his running shoes on as well.
Are You Running with me, Jesus?
It’s morning, Jesus. It’s morning, and here’s that light and sound all over again.
I’ve got to move fast…get into the bathroom, wash up, grab a bite to eat, and run some more.
I just don’t feel like it, Lord. What I really want to do is to get back in bed, pull up the covers, and sleep. All I seem to want today is the big sleep, and here I’ve got to run all over again.
Where am I running? You know these things I can’t understand. It’s not that I need to have you tell me. What counts most is just that somebody knows, and it’s you. That helps a lot.
So I’ll follow along, okay? But lead, Lord. Now I’ve got to run. Are you running with me, Jesus?
-Malcolm Boyd, Are You Running With Me, Jesus?, 1965