Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Running Away

I would imagine that many children think about and perhaps even attempt running away from home. When I was four years old, I packed my suitcase and ran away to my neighbor's house two doors down. Who knows what triggered this action at such a young age. Maybe I had been disciplined for taking candy without asking or not making my bed or hitting my sister. I do remember attempting to carry around that little runt by the head one time. In any case, I suppose life was just too hard for me to handle, and I thought the grass might be greener down the street.

They say 'what goes around comes around', and it came around our house recently. Maddie, our 9-year-old, had just about enough of time out for her attitude and backtalk. When I told her that the time was up, jail time was finished and would she please come and get her homework done now, she just disappeared. I waited as patiently as I possibly could for the little girl to appear. She didn't show up. Finally, I traipsed to the culprit's bedroom and watched her pulling clothes out of her drawers and putting them into a duffel bag. "Uh oh," I thought, "Deja vu...this looks strangely familiar." I calmly asked, "What are you doing, Maddie?" "Running away," she states matter-of-factly. "Uh, well...I see a problem here. You didn't pay for these clothes; daddy and mommy did, so you can't take them." "Huh?" she questions. "Well, you can only take things that you paid for. And, you certainly can't take this library book. That doesn't belong to you. So, what can you put in your bag that you bought?" Maddie looks around her bedroom at all the knickknacks, toys, books, etc. scattered about. "Uh, nothing!" "Oh, ok, well, I guess you'll have to run away without anything. But, I tell you what, you can at least keep the clothes that you're wearing, so you won't have to leave naked!" I tell her. She seems stunned, but she walks out the garage door with her homework and a pencil. It seems that Maddie still has a deep sense of responsibility to complete her homework which causes me to believe home life hasn't been all that bad for her.

Maddie plods down the street, just past the last neighbor's house, when she turns toward home to give it another longing look...or maybe just to see if we're running down the street after her. I watch her through the front door window. She appears to be pondering what to do when finally she turns and heads back home. Who knows what changed her mind--the thought of mom's tasty home cooking, dad's goofiness or big sister, Alix missing her nonstop chattering--I was simply relieved that she did!

I wonder if you've ever wanted to run away as an adult. I sure have. Circumstances in my life haven't always turned out the way I envisioned them. I've been thrown curve balls; I've copped bad attitudes; I've made poor choices and been held captive by the consequences of those bad decisions. I've thought, "If I can just escape, get away from all this, things would be much better." The only challenge with running away, however, is that I take myself along. Many times, I'm the problem. Oh, I want to think that if I could get away from everything and everyone (after all it's their fault), I would be free from pain, judgement, scrutiny. How disillusioned I can be! I need to deal with my stuff and let God deal with my stuff. I can't blame other people or devastating circumstances for my poor decisions or ungodly actions. And, I most certainly can't continue to believe that by escaping, life would be so much easier.

In this midst of my sorry self, God's presence is near. He loves me and will never leave me. Even if I attempt to run away from everything, I cannot escape from Him. So, where are you? Are you trying to escape? Have you been blaming others for things in your life for which you need to take responsibility? Put down your bag and run into the arms of your Father!

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139:7-12

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