Running on empty and treading water

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, November 29, 2023

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

I used to be a runner. I loved the feel of feet pounding the pavement, endorphins kicking in, and the subsequent runners high. I loved running, and at some point, I’d like to be in the shape where I can make that a regular practice again. 

In the meantime, as the old joke goes, if you see me running, you better start running too because something or somebody is out to get us. (You have permission to crack a smile!)

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However, if you are anything like me, and I highly suspect you are, we’re always metaphorically running these days. We’re either chasing after something or maybe even being chased. 

Some of us are chasing after the American dream, while others are running from the debt we’ve accrued in the process. I apologize for mixing my metaphors, but many are simply running in place while trying to keep our heads above water. Even worse, with all the hustle and bustle, by the time Christmas Day gets here, we may have lost all the joy and peace of the season.

We could indulge in a tirade or rant about rampant commercialism at this point, but let’s not. Instead, let’s reluctantly insert a well-worn cliched phrase: “Jesus is the reason for the season.” 

I say reluctantly because it is mainly used as a weapon or a barb in an ongoing “culture war.” Climbing on my soapbox for now, I’m not interested in duking it out with anyone over the flaws in our society. Fighting a so-called culture war, especially one that seems more about enhancing our divide rather than ending it, is pointless. 

On the other hand, I’m highly interested in knowing and fostering the peace and joy Jesus came to bring. Amazingly enough, peace and joy depend highly on being at peace with others. 

How hard is that? It’s easier than you imagine. 

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:18, If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” What that means for me is consciously choosing not to indulge in rhetoric and drama. 

Indeed, Jesus is the reason for the season, and I can choose to be joyful regardless of the actions and attitudes of others. I can eagerly embrace the wonder of “Immanuel, God with us.” I can choose to be at peace knowing how blessed I truly am regardless of the culture I live in!

May the joy and peace of the season be yours in abundance!