Updated: May 10, 2022
Good morning. It is Wednesday, May 19, 2021.
Raising children is not easy. In fact it can be down right hard! Yes, there are good times; times filled with joy and happiness and laughter, but there are hard times filled with tears and stitches and bullies. And then suddenly as your young child reaches teen years, it is like the "terrible twos" all over again. Emotions run wild and you scratch your head wondering what happened to your little bundle of joy.
Psalm 127:3 tells us "...children are a gift of the Lord" and truly they are. I have given birth 4 times and each was an awesome experience. The love you feel, instantly, for a little human that you just met, incredible feeling! But pre-teen and teen years can be hard.
Recently I found myself reliving a memory from April 4, 1995.
I remember the day well because it was the day my husband had neck surgery for a ruptured disc, my second oldest son was celebrating a birthday, my favorite grandpa, my papa Rod, passed away and my oldest son ran away. It was an exhausting day, but I am getting ahead of the story.
Wendell and I woke up early that day and drove the 30 miles to the hospital where he would be having surgery. After surgery he was recovering in his room when a nurse came in and told me I had a phone call from a "Kim"
Kim was the mother of my oldest son's girlfriend and lived about an hour from my town. These two crazy kids had met at boarding school. They had the same initials, their birthdays were on the same day (one year apart) and they knew they were meant for each other. The only problem is they quit attending classes and would spend their days lazing by the river. We parents took the kids out of school and brought them home, which meant they could no longer easily see each other and that is when the fun began.
Back to the hospital. I answered the phone and Kim told me that her daughter had run away and was in Medford trying to cash a check at a check-cash place. The employee had called Kim to make sure the check was valid. The daughter had earned money babysitting and it was a valid check. My son was with her.
Kim asked if I could drive to that location as soon as possible. Now, the neat thing about this story is the fact that I was in Medford with my husband for his surgery, not 30 miles away in our home town. I jumped in the car and drove to the location as fast as possible.
When I got there, they were gone. The employee was apologetic and explained she stalled as long as she could but she just could not keep them there.
I started walking to all of the area businesses. I had a picture of my son in my wallet and I asked people "Have you seen my son?" I went to a nearby motel, grocery store, I even entered a furniture store. No one had seen my son.
I got to thinking...these two had mentioned wanting to live in New Mexico. Why I do not know, but I thought, maybe they are hitchhiking. I headed for the freeway and started driving southbound. I had driven about 4.5 miles and decided if I had not seen them by then, they had gotten a ride. I turned around at the next little town's exit and headed back to the hospital.
This is where it gets really good! I exited the freeway ready to turn right and head back to the hospital when I heard that still small voice, one I had heard many times in my life. God told me, get in the left lane; turn left. I immediately put my blinker on, got in the left lane and turned left, heading back over the freeway and into Medford.
I started talking to God "I don't know where I am going Lord. You will need to tell me. I passed business after business. Block after block when suddenly I heard "See that Abbey's up there? Go there." So I did. I pulled in, turned off my car, got out and walked in.
There at one of the tables, with pizza boxed-up, duffle bag on the floor and a look of absolute disbelief was my son's girlfriend.
I was giddy inside! Incredible!!! I could hardly believe my eyes, but with my most stern voice I asked "Where is my son?" She answered "In the bathroom." I said "Go get him." She started to pick up her duffle bag, I said "Leave that right there" She was scared; I was on top of the world.
She walked across the dining room to the men's bathroom and knocked on the door..."Mike, your mom is here." I could hear him say "WHAT!" "Your mom is here."
He walked out with a look of utter confusion. There is no way his mom should be standing there! He had plans and they did not include me. They had left Grants Pass thinking we would be in Grants Pass. They did not know that we would be in Medford and none of us knew that God would lead me directly to my little runaway.
Getting him in the car was another story. It took over half an hour to convince them to get in. He begged me to just let them go. He begged me to forget I had found them and just turn away. I said "Son, even if I wanted to, there is no way I can. God led me right to you! You are not meant to do this. You need to come with me."
I am reminded of how many times in my life I have runaway from God and the safety of home. How many times have I turned my back and formed my own ideas and plans and tried to change my scenery. And how many times has Jesus come looking for me? Encouraging me to "just come back."
We will not know this side of heaven what might have happened to those two young teens if they were allowed to go through with there plan that day, but I am still amazed at how God spoke to me and led me right to them.
I am reminded of the prodigal son from the Bible. The story can be found in Luke 15:11-28 but I want to focus on verse 20. "...But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him."
This young man had taken his inheritance, moved to a big city, spent all the money on friends and parties and ended up broke and without anyone that cared for him. He had friends as long as he had money, but with no money, no one wanted him. By the time he decided to return home he was eating pig slop just to survive.
The really cool part of this story is the fact that the father ran to his son. He ran. You see, in that culture and time a Middle Eastern man never ran. If he ran he would have to pull up his garment so he would not trip. That would cause his bare legs to show and in that culture, it was humiliating and shameful. Men did not show their bare legs.
Jesus willingly hung and died on a cross to save us. He bared our shame so that we can be forgiven. He endured the torture of the cross so that we could be accepted. We do not need to be afraid of "going home". It does not matter what we have done, how bad we have been, He is watching and waiting for us to come down that dusty road, headed back to His loving arms.
How many times have I squandered what God blessed me with? How many times have I returned to Him with heartache and disappointment? And how many times has He run to me, and threw His arms around me and said "welcome back child"? I cannot answer that because the times are numerous.
In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asked Jesus "LORD, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
All we need to do is ask. Just ask for forgiveness and you will be forgiven!
Psalm 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." ESV
I just want to encourage you, if you have been running from God, just turn around and head home. He is there with open arms. He will embrace you and throw his robe around you. He will throw a party in your honor and place a crown on your head.
James 1:12 "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
Have a blessed day and remember, Jesus is coming soon!