With lights flashing, the police cruiser pulled beside me. The officer signaled through the window to pull over and stop. The gig was up. I was caught.
I pulled over to the side of the road, braked, and put the kickstand down on my bicycle (not that I needed it … my little bicycle still had training wheels). A sigh hissed from my lips as I climbed off. I was eight years old and running away from home. Well, I had been. Evidently I wasn’t anymore. To be honest, I don’t really remember why I was running. It could have been due to some bad grades I was scared to show my parents. My father was a teacher and principal in the same school system I attended. To say that good grades and proper behavior were required of me would be understating it considerably. And those bad grades terrified me. I had gotten lazy, hadn’t studied, and paid the price.
Then there was my new little brother. For six years I was an only child, and then this little usurper appeared, taking—from my point of view—all of Mom and Dad’s attention. I was jealous. On top of it all, my best friend Susan moved away. She was born into our close-knit family twenty-four hours before me. We grew up living only a block apart in Winston-Salem. Not only were we cousins, but we were also best friends. Susan went to my school; we were in the same grade. We spent family holidays and time at the beach together. Now she and her family had moved to Fayetteville.
In all my eight-year-old wisdom, I decided to go live at the beach. I knew the way, even from where we lived in Winston-Salem. My family had a beach house on Long Beach, and we went there several times a year. I loved that place. I always felt more at home at that beach cottage than any other place I knew.
So it was, that I gathered up my accumulated three dollars and change allowance, sneaked some bread and peanut butter into my knapsack, and instead of going to school that morning, headed off for the beach 200 miles away. I pedaled for most of the day on my little bicycle with training wheels. I got as far as Greensboro, twenty-nine miles away, before the passing policeman took an interest in the earnestly-peddling little boy who should have been in school. He picked me up, put my bicycle in the trunk, and drove to the police station to call my parents.
The hour spent waiting for my parents to come dragged past. It was one of the worst hours in my young life. I anticipated hell fire and brimstone, but when they arrived, they came with relief and love. I didn’t get the punishment I deserved for the worry I’d put them through. Instead, I was scooped into loving arms. I doubt at the time I fully appreciated the lessons learned, both in the futility of running away and receiving love instead of the hearty spanking I deserved. But the memories stayed with me and, in time, I did understand.
I especially understood Jonah’s running away to the sea, and Moses running to the desert. They both ran away, and in both, God used miracles and love to get them back on course. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last time I ran either from a situation or into a bottle of alcohol to escape. God has used miracles to get me back on track as well—although I doubt seriously my purpose in this life was as important as theirs.
Are you running from the purpose God has intended for you? Turn your life over to Him. See what wonderful places His plan can take you.
(Photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com.)
(For more devotions, visit us at www.christiandevotions.us.)