Have you ever wanted to run away? Or, hide yourself from your friends and even from God? Me too. But what I learned is that is the wrong question. The better question is to ask: Who are you running to? Even Hagar in the Bible tried to run away into the wilderness but she wasn’t able to run away from God. He met her right where she was.
Have you ever felt like running away?
Playing hide-n-seek but not being found for a while?
Have you ever been with friends, but not shared your heart, hoping your brokenness would stay hidden from view? Hoping maybe if you ignored it, it would go away, or maybe at least not hurt so bad?
Maybe, you’ve even tried to hide from God…hide your hurts, hide your hopes, even hide your mistakes.
I’ve wrestled with all of the above.
I recently half-jokingly sent a text message to a friend that said, “I wanted to run away, but this is as far as I could get on foot,” then attached a photo of a nearby pond with a fountain. I wasn’t literally trying to run away in the truest sense of the word, but my soul needed a change. I needed to go someplace where I felt “safe” to feel the pain inside without having to talk about it, justify it, defend it, or have anyone try to fix it.
I knew I wouldn’t get far…I toted a mini lawn chair on one shoulder with my huge insulated mug in that hand and a tote bag with my computer, journal, Bible, my latest read, and assortment of pens and highlighters on the other arm. I’m sure it was quite the sight to any neighbors who drove by! I just needed a few moments of quiet to regain perspective.
Can I be honest with you? I was alone and it was a quiet place other than the faint sound of the fountain in the distance, but my heart and my mind were not at rest.
Rest is hard for me. Aside from sleeping, allowing my soul to be at rest is hard for me to grasp, much less do. As I explored that with God in the still of the morning, I’ve realized that rest, particularly resting in Him, requires trust.
Can I trust that my household will still run smooth enough while I take a few moments to replenish myself?
Can I trust that if I take a few moments each day or each week to set aside the worries and tasks that scream for my attention, that there will be enough time to manage the priorities when I redirect my attention back to them?
Can I trust that even when I do not see God moving, that He is working His good and perfect plan in my life and in my current situation?
Can I trust that God sees me, cares for me, won’t abandon me, and wants to heal the brokenness within me that no one else sees or knows about?
Why should we run to God?
On this particular day, in my pursuit of “running away,” I felt very much like Hagar from the Old Testament. After being mistreated by Sarai and then being beaten and broken in spirit, Hagar ran away to the wilderness. Yet even in her attempts to run away, God met her there. It was in her wilderness moments that God spoke through an angel and told her to name her son Ishmael, which means “God hears” because God had heard her woes.
“So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, Have I not even here in the wilderness looked upon Him Who sees me and lived? Or have I here also seen the future purposes or designs of Him Who sees me? Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi. A well to the Living One Who sees me” (Genesis 16:13-14 AMP).
So back to my original question. Have you ever felt like running away?
In my attempts in the past to “run away,” I even tried to run away from God. Sometimes my attempts were pretty bold when perhaps my church attendance became spotty, or my quiet times less consistent. Other times my attempts were more subtle, not fully sharing the depth of my pain with Him in prayer.
We can never run away from God
Yet just as Hagar learned, I also learned: we can never run away from God. He loves us too much, and He follows us to the depths of the earth and the depths of our despair.
“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.” (Psalm 139:7-10)
No matter what prompted my heart’s desire to run, and no matter what circumstance you find yourself in now, we must choose to trust the truth of His word. He promises to be with us, to save us, to delight in us, to love us, and to rejoice over us. “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
So now upon reflection, maybe the question shouldn’t be have you ever felt like running away, but rather, who are you running to?
Instead of running away, will you run into His arms today?
Depression doesn’t have to become a permanent part of life.
There is hope.
Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.
“Nowhere else have I found an author speak to the difficulty of depression with this level of specific explanation, insight, and hope. In Hope Prevails, Dr. Michelle Bengtson unfolds a deeply personal narrative that speaks both to cause and antidote. She balances the truths of depression with a chord of hope, tethering us to both the love and power of God. On those days you’re tired and weary and feel like you just can’t keep going, this book is like having a girlfriend right there with you. A girlfriend who just happens to be a trained and certified mental health professional who relies on scripture to equip you with the tools you need to overcome.” ~ Jo Ann Fore, Author of the award-winning When A Woman Finds Her Voice