Today: Wednesday, November 13, 2019
 
 

I fled from God...    (5/12/2013 )



I've never been very interested in the mediaeval period—I imagine the people then lived short, uncomfortable lives, usually in need of a good wash.

But the other day I was fascinated to read something said by a Christian called Anselm about 1,000 years ago:“I fled from God, and God came with me”.

This moved me very deeply, because I think I understand some of what Anselm was saying about the nature of God, and God's relationship with us. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • It's OK to flee from God occasionally—whoever you are (Anselm himself became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093).
  • God knows that, from time to time, we're going to want to run and hide from him. He understands and cares about our fear and our frailty. He doesn't punish us for wanting to run away: he simply comes with us.
  • Fleeing from God doesn't mean you no longer believe in him. After all, you can't run away from something that doesn't exist, and I think God knows this kind of fear and hiding is part of real faith.
  • God is with us on every step of our personal journeys, even when we can't see or feel him; even when we don't even want him around.
  • Whatever we do, wherever we are, God keeps pace with us.
  • God doesn't run ahead of us, to wait for us when we get there. That would leave us unprotected and alone at a time when we are very vulnerable.
  • When we arrive wherever we're going, we don't have the irritation of seeing the one we're fleeing from leaning against a wall, waiting for us.
  • God doesn't run after us. He does not pursue us, like a pack of dogs, to punish us for fleeing.
  • God does not turn his back on us when we flee. He doesn't say, “Fine! You go ahead—run as far as you want, and just you see how you manage without me”. God isn't peevish; he doesn't sulk. He doesn't play mind games.
  • If we encounter difficulties and dangers on our journey, God is there beside us to love, comfort and protect—just as much as when we were back in our old comfort zone.
  • Whenever we decide to stop running from God, and if we want to go back to him, we don't have to turn around and run all the way back to our starting line. He's already there. He saves us from the perils of another journey.

It's simpler to imagine a physical fleeing—literally running away from God. Of course, this is much less likely than an emotional flight, a spiritual upheaval which causes us to turn away from God. Such a turning-away could last hours or decades… it doesn't matter. God is patient. God will always be there.

If you feel weighted down by fear or guilt or a sense of unworthiness, God understands. He's right there with you, just waiting for you to turn to him. 





Pray: Lord God, I spend more time with my back turned away from you than towards you. And when I'm in that position, it's easier to move away from you - or to flee. Draw my face towards you, God, that I might have less reason to turn aside from the source of all goodness, love and life. Amen.

Think about: Anselm said these words some time in the late 11th/early 12th century. The human condition doesn't really change: his words still resonate with meaning almost 1,000 years later. So God patiently endures the same mistakes, century in, century out. Yet he never tires of us, or stops seeking us. What does this tell you about the nature of God's relationship with us?

Challenge: Consider carefully which aspect of God you may be fleeing from. It is church? Is it prayer? Is it being willing to suspend what you consider rational belief, and making that leap of faith? Is it a failure to forgive, or to accept the resurrection? Pray with God about the obstacles between you and him.

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