A six-year-old boy left his mother a small note. On the front, it said, “Moma Read this letter. Sign David.” Inside the folded page, written in boyish script was, “Dear Mother, I hate to do this. I am run away. I love you. David.” But, as she turned the page again, there written on the back was the clincher, “I will leave trail.” It never occurred to the boy that his mother might not come looking for him. Of course, she would. That was a given. David simply wanted to help her find him a little quicker.
I ran away once. I was four and defiant. I did not want to go to bed. My aunt was visiting from New Jersey, and I was sure I was going to miss all the fun. When my mother failed to relent, I headed out the back door in my pajamas and bathrobe, with fuzzy little slippers on my feet. I knew where I was going—to Granny’s. I was convinced she wouldn’t make me go to bed. I made it as far as the front corner of the house, where someone, something, jumped out from the hydrangea bush. It screamed and waved its arms. I screamed and ran, all the way back through the open door where my mother was waiting, straight to my room, and into bed. As I lay there panting, I could hear my mother and aunt laughing in the living room.
How many times have you thought about running away? I think, if most adults are honest, we would admit that we think about it more now than we did when we were children. Life bears down on us sometimes, and we just want to get away—far away—from the everyday cares and concerns. It’s a natural reaction. We get tired of fighting. We want to flee. And although we can’t always physically run, we can hide emotionally and spiritually. We withdraw into ourselves. We become “lost” in the struggles of life.
My eleven-year-old niece, Deshea, recently gave a 4-H speech about sheep. She explained how sheep aren’t very smart, how they depend on their shepherd for food and care and protection, and she told a story about what happens when one of them runs away or gets lost. She said, the shepherd “must go and find it because without him, the sheep would surely die.” Then she continued, “When I heard this story my mom was reading it to me from her Bible. She explained to me that the farmer was Jesus and he had done the same for me. He came and gave his life for me…”
What a powerful testimony from the mouth of such a little girl. Deshea knows that wherever she is in life, God, her shepherd, is with her. Deshea’s speech and David’s note both encouraged me to reflect on the confidence we can have in the love of our Heavenly Father.
Psalm 139:7-10 gives us a beautiful picture of the love of our God, a love that always comes looking for the runaway.
“Where could I go to get away from your spirit?
Where could I go to escape your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there.
If I went down to the grave, you would be there too!
If I could fly on the wings of dawn,
stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—
even there your hand would guide me;
even there your strong hand would hold me tight!”
In a world where struggles are sure to come our way, when finances are tight, when life seems uncertain, when relationships are struggling, when questions arise, we can be assured that “nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). When we get lost or even if we run away, our Heavenly Father is sure to come looking for us, and we don’t even have to leave a trail.