Just Keep Walking Inland

I was never a big Jars of Clay fan; I’m a horrible Christian kid of the 90’s, I know. Give me Steven Curtis Chapman or give me death.

Lately, though, Jars of Clay’s stuff has resonated. Especially their more recent creations meshed with my current season of life.

Enter my latest struggles. Enter five months of this #RunningTo life on the road.

Enter Inland.

Jars of Clay "Inland"

It’s easy for any introvert to use that definite facet of your personality as an out. Oh, I don’t need many people in my life. I don’t need regular community. I don’t even need a home, really. Just give me four walls and a laptop to write blogs and books, and I’ll be great. Bonus points for a continuous flow of coffee.

And while I’ve indeed enjoyed countless coffee shop refuges on this continental road trip, the fulfillment of solitude is fleeting. Because at the end of the day, at the end of the coffee cup when I hop back into my car and drive onward, I find myself desperate for others. Others to surround me. Cheer me.

Others to surround and cheer myself.

You know that eerie feeling when a song gets you? The title track from Jars of Clay’s Inland is very much that feeling.

Those opening lines of “Inland” feel like a vehicle on the highway matching my speed in the next lane over. Time seems to stop as they hover alongside me, stare me in the soul, and speak of our shared desire for stoppage and rest and the arduous journey getting there.

there are no streets to walk on
no maps you can rely on
faith and guts to guide you
wander til you find you
only raw desire
no match to give you fire
you’ll have to trust your heart

This complicating route toward blissful belonging cannot be plugged into a GPS. It isn’t a trek marked with neon signs. It’s fueled by something more, something mystical, something ethereal within. Call it “faith,” call it “guts,” call it “logic” or whatever you will.

That longing for belonging lies inside all of us. No man is an island.

I’ve been on this #RunningTo quest for 144 days now, and I’ve seen some breathtaking wonders along the way. I’ve met and reunited with some wonderful people. I’ve caught glimpses of home through their eyes.

But what of a home of my own?

What of a PLACE/PEOPLE/PURPOSE to stake my earthly existence upon? I see it swirling all around me. Friends getting engaged, getting married, having kids, pastoring kids, leaving home and coming home to friends and family while I smile in the corner, staring down at the map on my iPhone.

Scrolling.

Zooming in.

Zooming out.

Scrolling.

I’m thrilled for those I’ve encountered who have found belonging. And yet with every passing mile eastward, I find myself selfishly craving it all the more. I close my eyes and envision a precious group of people holding a giant banner for me to run through.

A banner that says FINISH.

A banner that says HOME.

Alas, you don’t find home by skimming the shoreline. You don’t find home by building walls. You find home by breaking barriers and diving into the deep.

You find home by setting out like the wanderer you are and heading inland.

It’s been five months, and I still don’t know where “home” is for me. As both the calendar and continent expire before me, I’m clueless where this dwindling road ahead is leading. Concluding.

But if I’m hopping into my car and going anywhere, I’m heading inland.

I’m walking — running — inland . . .

#RunningTo: Monte Sano State Park

  • Meg

    I can identify with those feelings . . . But I have kids & a husband & a home. . . I don’t know if that longing that you are experiencing is going to be fulfilled by having any of those things. They are blessings & there’s nothing wrong with wanting those things but maybe the searching goes beyond those things? I love reading your blog.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective, Meg. Awesome to hear that from someone on “the other side.” I think it affirms how our collective restless won’t be fully satisfied until we eclipse some otherworldly gates in another life to come. Bring on home.

      Glad you’re enjoying my blog! The journey inland continues.