“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!.. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts (Psalm 139:17,23).”
Where do people go when they are on the run? Apparently, there are a lot of places available.
A blogger named Fredric Rice provides ideas for people wanting to disappear. He tells his readers about the pros and cons of running away to the desert, hopping freight trains and living in public camps and national forests. Rice even suggests joining the Peace Corp as an alternative.
I suppose all of us have at least mentally packed our bags at one time or another. Images of the beach are attractive in troubled times.
There are probably a multitude of reasons why a person would want to disappear. One poignant entry to the question “Why do people run away” was made by a young woman named Chris S. on the Care 2 website. Here’s her story:
“There are many reasons why people runaway, and if others understand what goes on in the thoughts and emotions of those who do run, it may help prevent more. I can’t possibly go through them all but I can talk about myself. I ranaway the first time when I was 4 years old, would have run at around 14 to 16 and ran again at 21.
I have my suspicions that running like this is a form of mental illness, much like depression, I still get those feelings to this day where I would like to “disappear” when things get tough going for me, only now as a single parent I fight the urge and keep going and stay.
The first time I ran at 4 was simply because I felt unwanted and unloved, my mother had recently given birth to my brother, and up until then I had still been sleeping in my crib, in my parents room. At his birth I was moved into my own room and a big bed with no explanations. To cap this he was born disabled and needed several hospital appointments and an operation to correct his physical disability. I felt pushed out, not wanted, no-one thought to explain to me what was happening and why. I may have been a child, but I still had feelings. So one morning I packed a few toys and walked several miles to my grandmother’s. Naturally I got taken back, but still no explanations, even after I told them why I left. I grew up in that kind of atmosphere with a mother who never talked or listened to whatever I said, there was a lot of other stuff going on too, it became clear as I grew up that she never bonded with me and she did admit that she didn’t want me and would have sent me to a children’s home if it wasn’t for my dad refusing to let her. I would have ran as a teenager, but I didn’t know where to go, besides at that point my mother at this point had another child, my sister, whom I instantly became very close and protective towards.
I did the next best thing in my mind, I married at 17 at the first opportunity, in fact I became pregnant by my boyfriend and I think looking back it was a subconscious act to leave the family home as my mother said she would put me out onto the streets if I did get pregnant.
The last time I ran at 21, I had a little girl and was unhappily married. My husband was in the kitchen and something snapped in my mind, I felt worthless, all those years of being mentally beaten down, not listened to, feeling unwanted, unappreciated, came to a head. I got up from the sofa, didn’t even collect my coat or purse, walked out of the house, leaving the door open. It was pitch dark and I walked pretty much as I was able, allowing for turns in the roads, etc, in a straight line from my door. I had no idea where i was heading for, the instinct was to walk in a straight line. As it happens that direction took me to the cliff tops at our coastline, I didn’t feel suicidal, there was no urge to jump so I was faced with turning left or right. At first I followed the path to the right, it was in my head that runaways all headed to London, and London was right. Then it occurred to me if all runaways went to London, that “they” would look for me first there. In actual fact my family would never consider looking for me in London, but my thinking and logic wasn’t right, anyway I turned and began walking in the opposite direction and headed north, I had every intention of walking to Scotland as ludicrous as it seems, but at least I had enough sense to walk back to a footpath away from the edge of the clifftops. After walking for some time I was going past a house with an open bedroom window, from which I heard a young child cry for it’s mother, it was only this that brought me out of that state of mind and walked back home, where I found my husband going up the wall with worry after finding me gone and the door left open.
Like I have said when things get on top of me, I do get a return of the feeling to flee but I manage to keep them under control now.”
If you think saints don’t run away, think again. Elijah is a prime example of one who did.
A look at I Kings 19 will show that Elijah ran because he was 1) afraid 2) fed up 3) exhausted 4) and depressed. He had an authority after him, his king as a matter of fact, and he took off.
At his first stop, he sat down under a tree and prayed that he might die. Been there, done that.
God didn’t chastize Elijah for running off. In fact, He looked after him and made sure he had food, water and mental and physical strength as he traveled.
The interesting thing to me is Elijah’s final destination. He didn’t take off to the forest, a squatter’s camp, or hop a camel caravan.
Instead, he ran to where he thought he could meet with God. In fact, that’s what happened.
When he arrived, God did want Elijah to tell him why he was there in the first place. Indeed, he asked him twice,””What are you doing here, Elijah?”.
God knew. After all, He’s omniscient. I just think he wanted Elijah to verbalize it so it would be clear in his own mind.
Elijah told God things as he saw them. He felt alone and betrayed, and he told God so.
Interestingly enough, he DIDN’T ask God to do something about it. Elijah just told the facts as he saw them, and God Himself took matters in hand.
Of course, God’s plan did involve Elijah. However, all the prophet had to do was listen to God and carry out God’s strategy, and leave the results with Him.
This morning, as I sat in a motel room, I thought,”Here I am running again.” One close friend recently told me that this is what I do when things go bad for me. (He also added that I also lash out at my opponents.)
Before I took off, I had a lot of the emotions Chris S. wrote in her entry for Care 2. I was just flat out overwhelmed and needed a place to flee to get my bearings.
At least I ran to God, not away from Him, this time. That was the purpose of the weekend I am just completing: to get off and try and get some insight on what to do next from Him.
I couldn’t run from God anyway. The Psalmist wrote,”Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7).” A cheap motel is nothing to God.
Before I left my room for the state park where I spent the afternoon, I asked God to tell me His thoughts, and to search mine. I wanted real communication with Him.
After I read Elijah’s story, I just told my complaint to God, as the prophet did. I don’t know what is to be done about it, but I’m sure God will tell me when He is ready.
As for me, I am all ears.