Running on envy

I guess it makes sense that a Corvette owner, who went with his wife on a 7825-mile driving vacation last summer, would like songs of the open road. Running on Empty is a 1977 song by American singer/songwriter Jackson Browne. It’s the kind of song you can turn up loud when you’re out on the road.

But it also has a melancholy feel:

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels…

Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields…

It seems that Browne is saying that after years of chasing something, somewhere down the road, he’s still no closer to finding what life is all about.

In Matthew 20, Jesus tells the parable of a landowner who goes out to hire workers for his vineyard. Starting early in the morning, he hires workers five different times, so that by the end of the day, some workers had labored all day, while others had worked only for an hour.

And he paid them all the same.

The problem came when he paid the last ones first. When the ones hired first saw this, they became angry. We’d be mad too, right?

But why? The first workers had agreed in advance to work for the pay the landowner had offered.

I think the answer is that we’re all running on envy.

We’re all chasing some idea of happiness; it’s out there, if only we could find it.

We’re all looking around and seeing people with more than us, so we never feel like we’ve arrived. 

Running on Empty continues:

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels…

I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels…

Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through…

Looking into their eyes, I see them running too…

We’re all running for something we can’t quite find.

But in Jesus’ great parable, we need to see that the landowner, who represents God, was chasing something too. He was working all day…

Running after us.

Maybe we should slow down and let him catch up.

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