My first baby is a runner.
She doesn’t wear human skin or have opposing thumbs, but she’s a member of our family all the same. She’s a four-legged ball of mischief who looks like a cross between a Rottweiler and a Beagle. Her name is Zoe.
There are a hundreds of things which can beckon our mutt to the woods covering the mountaintop we call home, and most of them run on four legs too. She smells their scent, follows their trails, and despite the comfort of a warm house and a full bowl of food, she’s on the move before I can give my best whistle.
A couple of nights ago, I thought she was gone for good. Visions of coyotes and bears who call this mountain their home filled my head, and I was certain my runner had met her match.
When a watchful neighbor returned her to our doorstep, I collapsed onto her chilled, tail-wagging frame. I wanted to chide her and rebuke her for the worry and sleeplessness she’d caused, but all I could do was hug her and run my hands through her soft fur.
It wasn’t the rebuke that kept her here all these years. It was the kindness.
As I sat there marveling at the sight of the dog I thought was dead, I remembered certain family members and friends who, like my sweet Zoe, are runners. They run to escape hurt and pain that’s never healed. They run because they think God’s given up on them.
And deep down I know it’s not judgment which will bring them back, but love. Though we must speak the truth, we can do so without condemning those who are not ours to condemn.
I think about my own seasons of running and what brought me back to the feet of Jesus. It wasn’t finger pointing or raised eyebrows. It wasn’t a long list of rules or a tally of all the ones I’d broken.
It was grace. Undeserved, relentless grace.
God’s conviction may keep my path straight, but his grace keeps me in love.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Romans 2:4 NIV
Does God correct those he loves? Absolutely. But the often clichéd phrase, “It hurts me more than it hurts you,” didn’t become cliché overnight, and it’s sentiment needs to be at the heart of all correction.
It takes a Spirit in tune with the Most High to walk in grace and truth. And the only way to walk it is time spent with Him, moment by moment, day by day.
May all of the runners who keep us up nights be drawn to the grace and love which saved us from ourselves.
May we be living beacons of light beckoning even the most lost souls home.