Author and cartoonist James Thurber made this provocative observation about life: “All persons must learn before they die what they are running from and what they are running to, and why.”

Our thoughts and actions in the present are shaped by something in our past: a parent who set standards that we can never reach; sexual abuse; a great potential in high school that fizzled when we got out into life; insecurity; growing up in a remote area or growing down in the inner city.

We must also find out what we’re running to. Some people, competing for temporary fame and fortune, are like passengers who are fighting for the best seats on a bus headed for oblivion. Others plan for their retirement—but not for old age or beyond death.

The psalmist Asaph knew what he was running from. He had lived in doubt near the neighborhood of despair. He also knew what he was running to and why. He sang, “It is good for me to draw near to God; . . . that I may declare all Your works” (Ps. 73:28). He also said, “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (v.24).

Have you figured out what you are running from? More important, do you know what you are running to?