This is the second musing from our Illinois vacation.
On the first morning we were visiting my husband’s small town of Strasburg, Illinois, he went out for a run, promising to be back in time for me to get mine in before he went golfing with his brothers. As the minutes dragged on, I mentally calculated how far I could go in the time I would have left. After more than an hour passed, I was mildly concerned about where he could have possibly run, but I knew if I didn’t go soon, I wouldn’t make it very far.
After my sister-in-law encouraged me to leave the boys with her, I headed out, wondering if I would run into Matt along the way. I was somewhat aimlessly seeking him as I ran the loop around town. When he wasn’t at his Aunt and Uncle’s house, I realized I probably wouldn’t find him, even though it is painfully hard to find somewhere to hide in a town this size. A place where only 6 streets cross the two lane highway running through town without a single traffic light. The sign on the way in touts a population of 500, and in the 10 years I’ve known my husband, this is a 50 person increase. There are 4 churches and one bar. The “loop around the section” is roughly 2 miles, depending on which cross-road you come back on.
As I rounded the second turn, I was just thinking about how far I would go to seek Him, not my husband, but God. Idly I checked the app I use to track my run distance and speed and I was disappointed to find that for some reason this one wasn’t registering. I chuckled to myself thinking, “I really am off the grid!” I had literally run off my map in search of my husband and God’s message with this run. What else would I search this way for? What else should I be searching for? Matthew 6:33 tells us, “…seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” How often do we seek Him first? I am so much more likely to seek all those other things He promises to us first. If we aren’t seeking Him, are we hiding from Him? Attempting to hide under a pile of sin, guilt, shame, grief, conceit, success, greed, responsibilities, service, appointments, or even sometimes hiding under our religion. Some of the things we hide behind and under may even be good and worthy, but are they keeping us from the best thing?
One of my favorite Psalms asks, “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 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 139:7-14
And so no matter how hard we try, we cannot hide from God. Is that comforting or frightening to you? We should find comfort in the words of Psalm 34:17-18, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” So, even “off the grid” in Strasburg, God is with me. No matter how far I am willing to go to find Him, He is with me every step of the way. How then do I find Him? Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you. I will show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Both the gospels of Matthew and Luke record the famous words of Jesus, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you ,seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
Call, cry out, pray, ask, seek or knock…just stop trying to hide from Him. God sent His only son to die on the cross for us so that He could have the privilege of being The One who can strip away all the baggage we try to hide under. Once He has done that, he will encourage, strengthen and comfort us in our relationship with Him as He recreates our lives to be as He perfectly designed them. We simply have to find the place where we are able to listen for Him, whether it is “off the grid”, beside our bed or in a favorite chair, by the ocean or in the mountains, He is waiting there for us.