He swabbed his red, moist cheeks with his shirt sleeve, trying to hide the tears and calm his young heart. By now someone had likely discovered his absence and they would probably be scouring the neighborhood soon. As he huddled in the shrubs near the corner grocery store, he replayed the traumatic events from which he was escaping. His ever-antagonizing older sister had once again framed him and he had been sent to his room. He was tired of the injustice and ready to strike out on his own.
His problem was that, since he had stolen out his bedroom window, he had only been able to pack one change of clothes and his ipad. He had no food and had not thought to bring a coat. He was shivering, hungry, and questioning whether he made a wise choice to run away… especially since he was only eight years old and had no idea where he would go or what he would do.
As he mulled his situation over he realized that maybe he didn’t have it so bad. Sure, there were daily chores, house rules and pesky siblings, but should he have bolted like he did? It had been less than an hour and he was already feeling the consequences of his impetuous solution.
Meanwhile the young boy’s family was in a panic. Phones were ringing, people were patrolling the neighborhood and his family was frantically calling his name. Those “mean” people from whom he was running were already devising a way to bring him back. He was beginning to understand that life was not perfect, but his family loved him. And, in spite of the gargantuan emotions that pulsed through his body, and immense waves of self-pity, he was becoming more aware of their love. Deep down, he knew they would come looking for him… in fact he was counting on it.
God does that. Even though we are so small compared to Him, and even though our lives are so short compared to all human history, God is always looking for ways to help us find our way back home to Him. This is how one writer put it: “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” (2 Samuel 14:14 NLT)
Jesus told a story about a runaway that is recorded in Luke 15. He describes a young man who leaves home to make his fortune only to waste his inheritance and fall on hard times. He finally comes to his senses and heads for home. The challenge of returning was not the physical journey — it was the difficult emotional and relational journey home that was so hard. The fear of rejection, the embarrassment and the feelings of unworthiness were difficult to navigate.
But upon his return, his dad came out into the front yard, hugged him, gave him new clothes, reinstated him to sonship and threw a grand party. Because of his father’s incredible, unconditional love, he had found his way back to faith, trust, and intimacy. The rules hadn’t changed, but neither had the love of his father.
My guess is there are a lot of people who once knew God’s love, but life convinced them God was not good, or that they would never be worth loving. So, they ran. There are probably others who have never felt like they knew God, but He did know them. This article may be one of the many ways God is devising to help those folks make their way back to him. Take a chance. Let Him find you and take you back into His arms. That’s the kind of God He is.