On The Run: Running For Your Life

What’s with this On The Run series of posts, Christopher? Are you dodging someone? Have the authorities caught up with you?

There was a bit of what the Apostle Paul said to his son in the faith, Timothy, that made me stop and pay close attention to it and myself.

There is something about this advice that acknowledges something about the human condition. We are prone to run for two reasons. We run away from something we seek to avoid and we will chase something we desperately desire.

The advice Paul gives, however, is counter-intuitive. Evil desires of youth – not always what we perceive them to be and sometimes seen as rites of passage, sowing your seed, feeling your oats, part of what growing up is all about. With their association to youth there is that stage of life where you are working out things for yourself and seeking to establish your own identity. Taking instruction isn’t always a welcome activity especially if it challenges urges that others tell you are fine to explore and express however you want.

Paul can encourage Timothy in this way, however, because they have lived life together and Timothy has seen at close quarters how the gospel of Jesus Christ radically transforms and enables you to follow Jesus. Not only has Timothy seen it, but he knows from experience what it is to live that way. He knows what it is to pursue – chase after – those godly virtues that mark out a followers of Christ from someone who is just a fan.

It’s not just about running away from sin, it’s recognising the great worth of righteousness, faith, love and peace and as a result looking to gain that which you value over everything else. As you make it your ultimate pursuit it’s something worth leaving everything for and running after it.

No. I am not dodging any authorities or the like. I have a renewed desire to run for my life. Running in pursuit of righteousness is running for my life. Running in pursuit of faith is running for my life. Running in pursuit of love is running for my life. Running in pursuit of peace is running for my life.

That run should be something that keeps running and not just for me …

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

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On The Run: The Problem in a Memory

“I remember …

When they were young, they would fall, hurt themselves and come running to me. They ran to me because I could take the pain away. They ran to me because I could make it better. They ran to me because everything they needed was found in me.

They got older and thought it was a sign of maturity to not come running as often. They thought it childish to come running all the time.

Yet as they stopped running to me, they discovered they didn’t have the wherewithal to fix it when things got messy, when things hurt. Instead of running to me they thought they could run elsewhere and get the same care, get the same attention, the same warmth, the same care, the same wisdom and the same love.

They ran to other things because they thought as grown ups they didn’t need to run to me anymore. Only to find themselves caught in the trap of pride. Too proud to admit they were running to the wrong to make things right. Too proud to see that they could still find what they needed in me without diminishing their growth. On the contrary running to me wasn’t a sign of immaturity, it was an indication of the faithfulness that underpinned our relationship. But they were too proud to admit it.

So they carried on running to the wrong to make things right. Until they got tired of running and eventually tired of living.

But it never needed to be that way. It didn’t need to be that way at all.

Because I remember … ”

(This keeps running …)

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Blanket: Comfort from the Cold

As the sun sets and the last embers of its warmth fades, so is ushered in a chill breeze. It goes from a breeze to an unrelenting battering against the body. The shudders makes it clear that this is not welcoming weather.

Yet there is a welcome ally. The blanket.

Wrapped up tight around you, it’s not just the warmth that is offered, there is familiarity in the comfort. Shaped against the contours. Snug and roomy, long and close. It is with you and it is for you. As you wrap yourself up in it, so the external forces are kept at bay.

You find relieving comfort from the cold.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Hub

One of the best memories I have in life is of The Hub.

My good friend Andy lived in a place that we loved to refer to as the hub, where God could do business with us because it was a place of transparency, hospitality and honesty that encouraged vulnerability. The occasions I would enjoy just sitting on the sofa at his place as we went from laughter to tears and back again, deepening friendships and being a lot more aware of the issues that prevented people being real.

Being a hub turned out to be not just about a physical location. It was an agreement among brethren. The environment could be created anywhere as long as saints were of the same mind and heart. Not to perpetuate rituals for the sake of it, but to relate to each other and God as time allowed.

This was not an exclusive club for believers that was inaccessible to those who were not as yet believers. The conversation was about life. Points in which people could connect and then get to see a gospel perspective.

I love The Hub and am grateful for the lessons learned from the experience that I have the privilege of practising today.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Living Beyond Ourselves 

OK a brief football reference, then I will move right on, honest. 

So, Wayne Rooney is the leading goalscorer for his club, Manchester United and his country. He has won every trophy there is to win in the game at club level and has scored crucial goals in the run up to that. Yet for all those accomplishments there are some who are not convinced he really lived up to his potential. A friend of mine who supports United (keep praying, keep fasting), suggests that Rooney sacrificed himself for the greater good of the team he played for. Whilst others progressed to bigger and better things, he remained even as his role diminished, but he persisted and made himself available in whatever position he was called to play. 

Beyond football, there are some really good examples of folks who know what it is to live sacrificially to advance the cause of the wellbeing of humanity. The best examples I have found are from those who do not need and have never sought the limelight or needed the accolades for their efforts. Their reward is in their faithfulness and desire to serve. They are happy to see others flourish even if they are forgotten in the celebration. 

The heart of the servant living beyond themselves is a great way to see what it is to follow Jesus. He who laid His life down for His friends and did it so they would know what it was to serve and to love to the degree far greater than any love seen before. We follow in that way by seeing others around us, however flawed we are,  as possible friends rather than potential foes. In the light of the possibility simply exploring how to be a platform for the other to flourish in all they could do to be a blessing to the world. 

Part of being that platform is to invite them to consider this example of endless and selfless love that can make those who feel like the least be treated like they’re the most. Most precious and valuable in the eyes of a loving Father. Not for their egocentric boost, but so they can join in the joy of sharing this great news in deed and truth at work, at home, at college, on the bus, in the coffee shops (whilst drinking orange juice, obviously), in the park, sitting next to the homeless beggar in the city centre, watching the classic with the previously lonely widow who never thought anyone cared, supporting the child with severe learning difficulties on the brink of being excluded from another school, standing up for justice and righteousness for the poor and marginalised in the community. All of that not to draw attention to yourself, but point the light on Jesus. 

Whether Rooney really did sacrifice his career to advance the cause of his teammates will remain a point of contention. What is irrefutable is that God in Christ showed us how we can live in a way where others experience the amazing love of God. That is the way of living beyond ourselves. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 136 – Enduring Love 


There is a song called, Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong. The sentiments of the song may appear rather cheesy to some, but amongst those lyrics is a sense of love that has enduring power. 

That theme of enduring power in love dominates this Psalm. The love of God described here takes on epic proportions because it is a love that has last the ages. From creation to Kingdom formation, the enduring love of God – His mercies ever extended – declares His faithfulness and commitment in every circumstance. 

This enduring love restores, it overcomes, it guides and leads through the wildernesses to lands flowing in milk and honey. It sees a people revel but never loses hope. It is not a sentiment, it is not a feeling, it’s far more than a force, this enduring love expresses the character of God Himself. 

This is not a love exclusive to a people group in a given period of history. Echoes and effects of this love can be felt throughout the world through all time. Even now this enduring love transforms lives and has the greatest power in the universe. A power that lift people up to where eagles fly on to a mountain high. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 119 – Life in the Law of the Lord

Law, Word, Statutes, Precepts, Decrees, Commands and Promises. 

Seven words used often in NIV in this Psalm to express what had been stated in the first Psalm. That the man is blessed who delights in the Law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night. That blessing is expressed in suffering and hardship, that blessing is expressed against significant opposition to that delightful Law. That blessing is evident in every season of life because it is not a mere desire to be a do-gooder or to hit the right number of points. What underpins it is a desire to know and love the good Lord who has given this good Law. He has created us and in Him is everything needed to truly live not just hope to survive or blunder from one issue to the other. 

The longest Psalm in the collection merited a day and night to consider it and highlight key verses from it, which I endeavoured to do throughout the day. The main things I emerged with was just how crucial love, desire and focus is on the Word of God. And also how that love is not for text or legality but to embrace a relationship with the good God who in His goodness shows the way in His Word to enjoy life if we have the heart to turn to Him love what He loves and despise what He despises. 

That’s a lifetime commitment, but it’s also one that we see personified in the One who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. It’s dynamic life changing encounters with the God who speaks and as we hear and respond accordingly do we too can live to praise Him and know Him more. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden