Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Missing in Action

"And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?' "
(Genesis 3:8, 9)

Do you think God didn't know where Adam and Eve really were? Don't you think this was more of a "I know where you are, but WHY are you there?" question? More of a matter of their perspective, not God's? ("We are out of His sight." Even though we never truly are...?)

Another blogger was recently recounting a story about one of her kids, and how she panicked when he didn't get home at the expected time. I can totally relate to how that feels. Our youngest, Clyde, has a real knack for scaring me out of my wits.

When he was very small, but old enough to walk...after church one Sunday, we saw one of the men from our church go running toward the street. We stepped outside to see what the commotion was about. Clyde had gone into the street, and our great hero Harry had grabbed him to drag him back onto the sidewalk. The gentleman from our church pulled both of them to safety and brought them back to the church. (Poor Harry thought he would be in trouble, because he accidentally knocked Clyde down!)

About a year later, after we had moved to a different town, Harry and his friend were riding bikes together. The friend's sister was riding Clyde's tricycle, and Clyde was following along behind on foot. They would come around the corner in front of the house, circle around, and head back around the corner behind the house. They did this several times. Until...they all came around the corner except Clyde.

Me: "Where's Clyde?"
Harry: "Behind us!"
Me: "No, he's not!"

A search ensued. No Clyde. The kids and I started running all through the neighborhood. No Clyde. Finally, I slowed to a walk, and discovered two little feet sticking out from the awning of the neighbors' backyard swing. There he was, happy as a lark, swinging away to his heart's content.

About a month later, he pulled the same type of disappearing act. Only this time, we found him about 5 houses down, on a swing set of some other neighbors.

He has done this many more times, too. He disappears in stores, and isn't the least bit frightened to find himself alone. He has tried to disappear in airports. He has shown up later than expected from school. Most recently, he disappeared at the end of church. In his mind, if he knows where he is, and he's safe, why should we be worried? Needless to say, we have had many talks about why it is important for us to know where he is. And there have been punishments dealt out to remind him of this fact.

So as I reflect on the panic and fear I feel every time this has occurred, I wonder how this applies in the spiritual realm. We may not completely hide from God, as Adam and Eve did. It may not be caused by shame of sin. But don't we sometimes just kind of wander off on our own? Just sort of figure, "I know where I am, God, so it's all cool. I know all the 'stuff,' and I'm okay. I'll be back when I'm ready to feel a bit more spiritual."

Let me tell you, though, that's a dangerous place to wander. When we feel safe and secure in our wanderings, that is when we are most vulnerable to attack. It is when the enemy of our souls knows we are easy prey. We are away from the fold, like a lamb out sniffing clover. We think we've got it all under control. When in fact, we need to be back in the pasture where the Shepherd can ward off the wolf for us. We can't outrun the wolf. We can't out-fight him, either. When we're trying to take care of ourselves, we are a perfect target.

The best place to remain may not always seem the most exciting or glamorous place to be. It may not seem the most adventurous. But it is definitely the safest.

May our paths take us ever alongside the Shepherd, and not veer away from the safety of His presence.

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