We have an escape artist in our family. The kind that scales double safety gates across the stairway, the type who climbs out a crib in a sleep sack, through open windows and sneaks out locked doors. We have an escape artist who runs like the wind into the middle of the street, one stealthy and quick, ready at a moment’s distraction. We have an escape artist in the family and he calls me Gamma.
He hasn’t yet realized forbidden escape is harmful, that his very life may well depend on how closely he obeys. Nor has he yet realized the command to stay comes from deep love and desire for his good.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” Psalm 139:2-1-4 NIV
I am like that little boy when God’s Spirit whispers in my ear, “Don’t say it,” but I pretend not to hear because I want to let my words erupt like lava.
I am like those sweet blue eyes, avoiding mine when I retort to the Lord’s quiet reprimand by excusing my actions while listing the wrongs of another.
I am like him with his little hands that shove me away and feet twitching to stray when I want to do things my way more than the right way.
There is an escape artist in all of us, rooted and cunning. Unless we listen carefully to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit our own desires cover His whisper entirely.
Psalm 139:5 NIV, David wrote.
That hemming Lord, how many times has its embrace felt like a restrictive gate when Your protection was built on grace and love.
King David took the art of escape to higher levels than my grandson. He hid in caves, pretended madness and climbed through windows. He chose adultery, then tried to hide his sin by becoming a murderer. Despite his messy fugitive life, the Apostle Paul cited David as a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22) David’s greatest life failure was redeemed by humble repentance. He is characterized as a person who sought God and delighted in obedience.
Obedience ultimately displays trust and trust always requires a submitted heart to the One who loves most.
The “hemming in” of God assures us He surrounds.
Obedience ultimately displays trust and trust always requires a submitted heart to the One who loves most
How like that little boy I become when I choose myself above God.
“I know, I know,” I say to my grandson as I hold onto his frantically pumping legs.
And I do. I know that God Himself calls me to His side, allows only what He Sovereignly designs and hems me with His love. But I also know how prone I am to be like a little boy held safe yet thrashing about wanting to run with my own will.
After a backyard chase which ends on the next door neighbor’s deck, I seat two-year-old Enzo on my lap facing me. We are eye to eye, noses almost touching. Our gazes lock.
“Enzo,” I say. My tone is stern.
He looks down. I repeat his name. “Enzo.”
He will not look up.
I lift his chin searching for his eyes to meet mine. His eyeballs fly up to the sky.
“Enzo,” I repeat, an edge of harshness adds emphasis.
My hand is like a rudder on his chin. I firmly turn his face to look at me. Blue eyes skitter off to first one side and then another. They look down, they look up, they look away, anywhere but at me. They circle the little globe where we sit.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Ps. 139: 7 NIV.
Like Enzo, I need to be reminded at times, God’s hemming in belongs to Him. He is full of love, a gracious Father, merciful and good. It is in that remembering I stop my wrestling and recognize how silly it is to run from those arms which hold me. It’s like a little child who refuses to look into the eyes of someone who loves him very much.
“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain,” David concludes in verse six.
“It is too high,” some versions say. David recognizes the amazing truth of being hemmed in. He sees its blessing.
“I can’t reach it…it’s too high.”
God who knows all and is ever present exceeds understanding. No matter how much I try to grasp it, it’s beyond me. Such wonderful-ness brings rest to David’s runaway soul as it does for mine.
Are you also an escape artist?
My untrustworthy escapee points a little finger in the direction of his naughty escape.
“Ouchie,” he says.
Love undergirds the rules, but until he gets it, there will be some pain.