Is Your Life A Fun Run?

By David C. Nutter

Last Saturday morning, my wife, two youngest daughters and I participated in a neighborhood fun run, officially called The Highpoint Hike. A beautiful spring morning for such an event. Moms and Dads, kids of all ages, baby strollers, dogs on leashes, all gathered for 2.5 miles of fun and fellowship in support of a worthy charitable cause. The runners would go out first to be followed by the walkers. Our twelve year old, Ann Marie, was with me in the first group, while my wife, Susan, and our youngest, Laura Lillian, were in the second.

At the familiar words, “On your mark, get set, go,” a large group of kids in the approximate age range of five bolted from the start in a dead sprint. Ann Marie and I and a number of other adults and older kids followed at a more gradual gait. At 52 years old, I have learned a few things, and I observed to Ann Marie that the youngsters would not make it 150 yards, and they didn’t. With a truth at least as old as Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare, we puttered past and were among the earliest finishers.

But as I congratulated myself on my age-earned wisdom and excellent fatherhood, another voice from inside said, “Wait a minute, David. This was a fun run, not an Iron Man competition or even The Peachtree Road Race. Who cares if they had to walk after 150 yards? They were having fun, which was the whole point.” Hmm.

One of the challenges of education and middle age is the potential loss of childlikeness. Must everything in life be analyzed? Must everything be a competition to see how I measure up? We are told that the Kingdom of Heaven can be received only as a little child, that is, with a degree of wonderment and childlike trust. Must all of life fit into the tiny little box of maximizing performance and winning? Must all actions be “wise” from the world’s perspective? Must everything be “understood”? Can it be that there are a multitude of ways to participate in a fun run, and they are all good?

That is not to say that all human wisdom is to be cast aside. Context does matter. But the voice inside was suggesting to me that I must be careful not to overthink my life, not to be too caught up in future planning. The five year olds at the fun run were not thinking about the end of the 2.5 mile run. They were focused only on the present fact that it is fun to run as hard as you can with your friends. One of my favorite descriptions of heaven comes from the Prophet Isaiah who said that one day “we will run and not grow weary.” That is a beautiful thought to me. I look forward to the day when I, with my family and friends, can run and run as hard as we can, as fast as we can, and we won’t get tired. We’ll stop only because we are ready to stop. Wonderful.

The eyes of faith are a child’s eyes. I want my life to look more like a fun run than an Iron Man competition. But if it is to be so, I must choose to be more childlike. I think next time I’m going out with the five year olds.