There was a time when I wanted to run away. It was a particularly painful season in my life. The Holy Spirit had shined a light into my soul and revealed all the darkness. I admitted to myself, then to my husband, and eventually to God, how angry I was that my life had turned out the way that it had. I was supposed to be a doctor, a successful career woman who did want she wanted, earned respect and glory for herself, then came home after a satisfying day at work and enjoyed quiet, a bubble bath and a glass of wine, and no one needing anything from me. Instead, I was a mom of four needy children, wife to a sinner, working hard for glory that was not my own. I was angry at everyone and disgusted at the reality of me.
Disciples of Jesus wanted to run away, too.
Jesus had just delivered His controversial, “if you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life” speech. (John 6:53ff) His disciples (which seem from the passage to be far more than just the 12) are having a tough time with this teaching. They are offended, and many of them “turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). So Jesus goes to the Twelve, wondering if they are going to leave, too. He asks Peter and the Twelve,
“You do not want to leave, too, do you?” (John 6:67)
I can hear the rejection in Jesus’ voice.
Peter, passionate as always, not yet fallen, not yet denied Jesus, responds beautifully, and honestly.
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
I hear Peter saying, “Jesus, where we gonna go? There’s no one like you. This is tough, but we aren’t going anywhere.”
I wanted to run away. Leave this life that God had called me to and go… where?
I got as far as the bathroom (my hiding place). I knew if I ran, abandoned my family, that God would still be there. I couldn’t go anywhere He wasn’t. I thought of the psalm,
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from you presence?
If I go to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle of the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:8-10
I read this story a while back about a woman who decided that she didn’t want to be a mom anymore. The title of the Yahoo! story was “The opposite of a 'Tiger Mother': leaving your children behind.” A mom of two boys, 5 and 3, got a fellowship to study in Japan for six months, and at about four months in, when the boys came to visit, she decided she didn’t want to parent them full time anymore. As tempted as I was to judge, I understood her. Motherhood IS a FULL TIME JOB (regardless if you work outside the home or not!). Live on your own for a while, taste freedom, live life for yourself, and why would you want to go back?
But here’s why I would go back. Because Jesus, as difficult as His teaching is, would ask me to go back. He’s got the words of life. He’s got peace and joy in His back pocket. He’s got the keys to eternal life in heaven, and abundant life on earth.
Jesus tells us to serve. Jesus served.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
But made Himself nothing,
Taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
I didn’t run away that day. I stayed. I had the hard conversation with my husband. I cried out to the Lord. I choose to follow Jesus, even when His teachings are difficult, I fail miserably or don’t understand.
He has the words of eternal life.