Runaways & Wrong Turns
Her rubber boots were a wee bit too big. And the three-year-old clumsy was in full swing.
While this was certainly part of the problem, the main concern was that this pint sized, clumsy little girl was running the entirely wrong direction. Against her Mothers warning, she tucked her brand new umbrella over her shoulder, tossed me a rebellious (yet oh so adorable) smile, and ran.
How is it that 3 year olds can run so fast? And why do they like to run the wrong way?
Let me paint the picture here: it was December on the west coast of Canada. Rain had arrived months earlier and everything was a mess. On the heels of her 3rd birthday, my daughter believed she could manage this walk on her own. All by herself. “No Mommy!” she declared, with her tiny hand held up at me. The standoff, of course, resulted in an upset little girl, and her Mommy coming too. Thus, the rebellious gallop away, and her unhappy disposition.
Gaining impressive momentum, this little runner took a sharp left turn on the path, and made way for the foot bridge. The bridge….. I could see it. But under her fancy new umbrella, she could not.
And so, things went south in a hurry.
The mud was deep that day as she launched off the side of that bridge, umbrella in tow, and landed face first on the banks of the river. Her bright yellow rubber boots were literally sticking straight up and into the air, and the top half of her body was completely covered in black slop.
It plays like a Disney movie in my head. And while I hurried to the scene, and grabbed hold of those little legs to pull her out of her mess, I also did what every good Mother does, I nodded a knowing nod to myself. Oh, and I laughed. I did. I couldn’t help it.
Up she came from that muddy bank; umbrella twisted and irreparably broken, covered completely in slop. And her face, well, my little girls perfect little cherub face told the story of a grand adventure, gone very bad.
Her muddy cheeks made way for the tears, which started as soon as the shock wore off. Throwing her hands in the air looking for her Mommy to carry her home, she looked like a cartoon character in a mud suit.
Ahh, the wrestle in this Mommas heart. To pick her up or to not pick her up??
I decided on, you guessed it: Nope. She was a mess. And she was rebellious. And maybe just maybe she needed to learn that running away from your Mommy can lead to very bad things. I helped you out of the mess kid, but you’re walking home, I said to myself.
Ok, before you gasp at my not so grace filled approach to parenting, please know that if I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would indeed pick up that little girl and snuggle her tight. Mud or not. In my humanness, I admit that I’ve missed lots of opportunities to show grace and mercy.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going here.... God, in His mercy, never misses an opportunity to respond to the cries of His children.
I have run in the entirely wrong direction, had face plant after face plant, and been covered in gross more times than I can count.
And, every single time, every single time, God runs to my side, grabs me by the boots, and lifts me to safety. And then, as if unphased by the mess, He holds me.
Is this true for you too?
Sometimes He lets us run ahead, knowing that this is going to hurt, He sees that rebellious look over our shoulder, and maybe He sends off a warning or two to remind us of the danger.
Sometimes, we listen. And sometimes we don’t.
When we launch off the course He has for us, He has a choice; He could leave us laying there, and turn His back. But He doesn’t. His love is too great and His compassion so deep, that we are never more than an arms reach away. And we are never too messy to pick up, hold, and heal.
He doesn’t promise to intercede every time. And doesn’t always heal the pain in a way that we think He will. Sometimes the rescue is simply Him moving in close to comfort us in the struggle. But He promises time and time again to never leave us. We are not alone, even when we give Him the brush off, head in the wrong direction, and face plant. All it takes is a request for help, and He joyfully reaches in and holds us tight. Mess and all.
Deuteronomy 31:8 “it is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”v