There were many times in my childhood where I just felt like I had to run. I remember one memory specifically when I was playing catch with a friend in my neighborhood. This friend lived very close to an old church and the field next to the sanctuary was perfect for throwing a football around. I believe I was in the 5th grade at this time so we were still pretty young. We were throwing the ball in the field next to the church when we saw a group of three older kids walking up the road. These kids were probably about 15 or 16 and given their attire, they probably listened to a lot of the music I listen to now. The one in the middle had a black leather jacket with patches of his favorite bands and a green mohawk. The ones on his sides had basically that same wardrobe with complementary artificial hair colorings. When I first caught sight of them, I looked at my friend and for some reason we both knew what we had to do next.
We turned and ran, and the teenagers followed after us.
I am not even entirely sure why we decided to run. But I do remember weaving in between the hedges of the church courtyard and then running to the backyard of one of the adjacent houses to hide behind. I remember peering around the corner and seeing one of the teenagers (the one with the green mohawk) looking around the gravel parking lot of the church. He was trying to find us. Two little fifth-graders that were playing catch in a field. Why was he trying to find us?
I know that I am only able to remember this event because of how traumatic it was to me. Now that I think about it, I don't think I have ever really shared this story with anyone. It was a time where I remember being legitimately frightened and running was the only option. Running was the escape that was placed before me and I chose to take it.
The thing about running though is that it often, like my story, is a product of fear. That fear forces us to do things that we really don't want to. I've also found that running is synonymous with selfishness.
Do you remember those times as a child where you "ran away?" You filled your backpack with some toys, maybe a pair of socks, and some crackers. After you put those Cheez-It's in your backpack you were gone.
I remember one time where I tried to run away. It was probably after I had gotten into some pretty deep trouble and received my punishment. I was upset. I knew that I had done wrong and I wanted to get out of there. I was so eager I didn't even put shoes on. So there was little Kasey Channita, riding his bike down the street with no shoes on, a backpack filled with some Lego's and crackers, tears running down his face.
I remember it was raining that day, so it really just added to my misery. I made it a couple blocks from my house and I stopped at a park. After sitting there for a little while to think about all that happened, I decided my parents have suffered enough. I think they had missed me for long enough. I figured I would give them a little mercy and come back.
Now if you remember your childhood at all, you will know that the time you spent "running away from home" always felt a lot longer than it really was. What I thought was a couple hours, ended up being only about twenty or thirty minutes. Pretty sad right? Well I was just a kid, and I guess kids don't really have a good understanding of time lapse.
I came back to find that my parents didn't even know I was missing. Given it was only about twenty minutes I was gone, they probably just thought I was pouting in my room or something. I am able to laugh about it now, but I remember being absolutely enraged that my parents did not know I was gone. It was selfish of me to run when I was a kid, but when it all came down to it, I just wanted someone to miss me. I just wanted someone to let me know they cared.
Throughout my journey as a Christian, I've come to realize that whenever I decide to run away from God, the very second I put those Cheez-Its into my backpack, He is there looking for me. He doesn't want me to run away and yet I do it so often. He only wants me to come back into His arms where He can tell me that He missed me, that He was looking for me. 2 Peter 3:9 says "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
When Peter is writing this, he is speaking on the day that the Lord will come back. He reminds the readers to be aware of the "scoffers [that] will come in the last days scoffing, following their own sinful desires" (2 Peter 3:3).
Peter encourages them to not forget what the prophets said of Christ's return and to be ready.
As Christians, we should always strive to flee or run away from sin and run towards God in His Holiness. As inherently broken sinners, there are times where we will mess up, but the more distance we put between ourselves and our God, the more difficult it becomes to come back to Him. Will God ever stop looking for us after we've decided to run?
By no means, but that doesn't mean we need to test Him.
The moment you sin, repent. If you don't feel convicted by your sin, pray. The Holy Spirit will convict you of your sin as He is our guide and interceder. There is no point in continuing to wallow in your sin when you serve a God that is so much bigger than your faults and failures. He is quick to forgive you and place you back on the path He has provided.
There is no longer a reason to run because we are afraid. We serve a God that is so giving of strength and power. Because the Spirit is in us, we can beat out sin. We don't have to keep falling, we don't have to keep sinning. He wants us to be holy and blameless, and because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, He sees us as righteous and pure when we are in relationship with Him. No longer does God see the crimson stains on our clothes, He only sees the blinding, white robe of His Son, Jesus.
Stop running in your sin, God wants you and God loves you. Run to Him.