In his glowing review of “Mission Impossible:Rogue Nation”, critic Roger Ebert says that the film makes sure “Tom Cruise never stops running.” Indeed, this is what Cruise never stops doing in this MI film and in just about all of his flicks. It’s the man’s signature.
I used to be a runner, but had to stop due to injury. But I’m still running in other ways.. I’m running from my family. I’m running from my shame. Most of all, I’m running from God, and I have been for a good part of my recent life.
I did a lot of damage to my wife and kids. Oh, not physically mind you. My hurts were more of on the emotional level. They generally were caused by my explosive temper. It wasn’t until I took a friend’s advice and started taking meds that I got some semblance of control of my rage. But by then the damage had been done.
When life happened and shit hit the fan professionally and then financially, my house of cards came falling down. My marriage couldn’t take it, nor could I. I began my running.
Yes, I ran away, but what did I run to? Escapism mostly, including the bad side of the Internet, affections for a woman half my age, and my usual fall back position, workaholism.
It has taken a summer of doing absolutely nothing and getting rid of years of total fatigue in my chest to be able to have enough clarity to finally own my role in the collapse of my family.
I have blamed myself before, but I have also blamed my wife for her part, and surely she has her own baggage. But that doesn’t matter. I can’t control her. I can only be responsible for my own choices.
Interestingly enough, the catalyst was a scene from the hit series “Breaking Bad” that tipped me over to ownership of who I am and what I have done to put myself in the place I am today.
In the scene, Jesse Pinkman, a drug dealer who sells the meth produced by chemistry teacher Walter White, has just gotten out of rehab. He ended up there after his girlfriend died of an overdose. This led to the girl’s father, an air traffic controller, being so torn up that he caused an air crash that killed scores of people.
Jesse asks Walt if he has been following the crash. Walt gets the inference and tells Jesse,”Wait a minute. You are not responsible for this, not in any way, shape or form.”
Walt falls into character as a scientist and tells Jesse that he has done some research. “I blame the government,” he tells the young man.
Jesse’s reply is telling.
“You either run from things or you face them, Mr. White.”
Walt asks,”What exactly does that mean?”
“I learned it in rehab,”says Jesse.” It’s all about accepting who you really are, I accept who I am.”
Walt shrugs and asks,”And who are you?”
“I’m the bad guy,” he says.
The Bible is replete with runners. Probably the most famous one is Jonah, who ran straight into the mouth of a whale.
There’s also Saul. He was God’s choice to be the first king of Israel. This is what the Life Recovery Bible (LRB) says of him:
“Saul’s story is a tragic one. He was a man with great potential for leadership, but he failed miserably. He allowed his fearfulness, disobedience, and self sufficiency to come between him and God’s plan for his life.”
Like Saul, I have failed miserably in my God given roles.
What can we learn from Saul? The LRB provides one answer to that question:
“There is no escaping the consequences of our actions. God can give us the serenity about our past failures if we are willing to take responsibility for them and ask God’s forgiveness. When we face this with courage, we may well spare ourself and our loved ones many years of additional pain.”
That’s the rub. I have to face God with my failures. But hey, I am not the only one who has been running.I have been in good company.
20th century preacher J. Vernon McGee, whose work lives on in the Thru the Bible radio broadcast, says that man’s feet tell of his weakness like nothing else.
“Our feet do not naturally turn to God. We are born today with feet that naturally turn in the opposite direction,” he says.
McGee tells the story of a boy who was being examined by church deacons for membership.
“They said to him,’How did you get saved?’. He said to them,’Well I did my part and God did His part.’They thought they had him and they said,’Tell us your part and God’s part.’ He said,”My part was to do the sinning. His part was to do the saving.’
He said,’I ran away from Him as fast as I could-as fast as this sinful heart and these rebellious feet could take me. And he done took out after me till He done run me down’.”
Running from God is exhausting. But as McGee says, I can stop and turn around to the beautiful nail-pierced feet of Jesus.
“I’ll admit it requires a little humility,” says McGee. “You have to be willing to come to His feet.” It’s pride that stops me.
I am thinking that even my eternal state could be at risk if I don’t stop running. McGee asks a disturbing, yet challenging question and then answers it.
“Where are your feet taking you today? They’re taking you either to heaven or to hell. There’s not a third place for feet to take you.”
The Scriptures tell me that another part of my anatomy which allows my feet to move, i.e., my knees, will bow at the name of Jesus, whether I like it or not.
Why can’t I stop running and start kneeling now?