The little girl on the beach

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The little girl on the beach was investing all of her childish energy into making obscure shapes in the sand and digging holes to find the tiny sand crabs and the water beneath the surface.  It was the perfect pastime on this hot summer day. After awhile,  she realized that she hadn’t seen a familiar face for awhile. She looked up towards the mosaic of colorful towels, beach umbrellas, and bathing-suit clad crowds all along the beach. Her little heart started to pound.

Where was mommy? Her heart pounded harder.

Where was daddy?  She started to scan from left to right, growing alarmed.

As she stared at the horizon full of strangers, full-blown panic set in and she started to race down the beach as fast as her short legs could carry her. She had no idea where she was going. She just knew she was lost and she had to find someone to help her. Her safe, comfortable world had suddenly grown dark and frightening.

Meanwhile, her parents looked up to notice that their little girl wasn’t where she had been just a split second before. They started to panic as they searched in vain for her blonde head. The beach was especially full that day and the nightmare of a lost child—their lost child—started to become real.

Getting ready to head over to the lifeguard, the father gave one final searching glance that just happened to be in the right direction. He saw a little girl in a navy bathing suit running down the beach as fast as her chubby legs could carry her. It was his little girl. And she was running in the opposite direction.

Before he could even give it a thought he was tearing down the beach after her. His young, strong body was fast—but this tiny 6-year old was making it hard to catch her. The adrenalin flowing through her little body made her much quicker than normal.

As her daddy finally overtook her, she stopped. She looked into his face and she knew that she was safe.   That familiar face changed everything. She grabbed her daddy’s neck and hung on for dear life. So very thankful and relieved he had found her, her daddy carried her back to safety.

That little girl was me. I don’t really remember all of the details, so some of them are from my imagination. However, I do still remember the fear and panic that was in my heart as I looked up and couldn’t see my family. I remember running. I vaguely remember the safety of being in my daddy’s arms. My parents tell me the story of how frightened they were when they couldn’t see me. I do know that after that incident I was deathly afraid of getting lost for at least 20 years. I was in my mid-20s before I realized that I was smart enough to find my way home if I got lost.

As this memory came to my mind a few days ago, it started me thinking about how sometimes we get scared in life and we just start running, searching for safety. We find ourselves in the midst of an unforeseen and uncomfortable trial and when we realize that we are in trouble, we start running like our lives depend on it.

Only we run away from God.

We run towards what looks like the exit door, only to find out it is not an escape from our trial at all but a fake exit door or maybe even a trap. Fake exit doors and traps take all kinds of shapes. They can look like a chocolate cupcake. Or a player-laden green field with lines on it. Maybe it is in the shape of a red Mustang GT or a nice boat. They can look like a thick best-seller or virtual military men on your TV screen. It may be in the shape of a wine glass or a small, white ball. It could be a court room or a corporate conference room. Whatever it looks like in your life, one thing is certain: There will be no escape there. Nor eternal peace or fulfillment will result from going the wrong direction.

But if you are one of God’s children, saved by His grace alone, God will catch up to you. He loves you and nowhere you can run can take you so far away that He can’t find you and catch you and bring you back to His fold. Just like my daddy did what he could do to protect me, so our Heavenly Father protects us. Even though, in ignorance, I ran a different direction than where my daddy was standing, he found me. Our heavenly Father will find us, too–if we are His.

This reminds me of Romans 8:38-39:

 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we are His, then nothing can separate us from His love and care for us. We may get lost for a little while but He will find us. Great is His faithfulness!

May we find our safety and peace in God alone and not waste precious time running the wrong direction.

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