Before we take a glance at what it looks like to run from God, we should note some of the reasons we run from Him. I don’t want to just jump right in with a bullet-point list or diagram. I want to take you on a journey so that you can explore the discovery of realizing the moment you maybe started running away or understand if, in fact, you are running from God. It doesn’t always look like a troubled teen getting in with the wrong friends or Jonah hopping on a boat in the wrong direction from where God told him to go. Sometimes running away from God looks like you serving in the wrong ministry at church or purposefully not serving at all. It can be you walking away from a promotion that God lined up just for you, and it can be you rejecting the blessings and callings that He has placed in your life.
To some reading this, it sounds crazy to deny yourself the call of God. So many of us beg Him, day in and day out, to show us precisely what He has planned for us. I remember the countless nights of my teen years and early twenties desperately contemplating my life and the purpose of my existence, asking God to show me exactly what I was supposed to do and become. So, for people like us, yes… this sounds crazy.
To others reading this, you are already identifying with this feeling. You only clicked the link to this article because you are acutely aware of how much of a reality this is in your present life. Maybe you have been running for a long time. Or maybe your race off the “path of Jesus” is just beginning. Either way, I want you to keep reading and take notes.
By the end of this article, I hope you will have a better understanding of three things:
1.) What you are running from…
2.) Why you are running at all…
3.) Where you are running to…
You aren’t just running from God.
To run from God, you have to make a conscious decision to intentionally do or not do particular things. For example, God provides you with a fantastic church family, awesome supportive friends, essentials like the Bible and Christian music, yet you neglect and ignore all of these things because they redirect you back to the path that He initially placed you on. You cannot run on His track and run away from Him. When you run from God, you often run away from all of these things, these positive forces that make your life and this entire journey more comfortable, better, doable… just to name a few.
Let’s take a look at the awesome, supportive friends God may have placed in your life. I have a few of those, and they push and encourage and inspire me like I never knew was possible. They pour in goodness and truth, and they hold me accountable. Them holding me accountable is precisely why I run from them when I’m not sure if I’m feeling God’s plan. I know if they remain present in my life, then I’ll likely be encouraged and inspired to stay on His path… However, if I put just the slightest bit of distance between us like not responding to a text or just keeping it short and falling out of touch, then I won’t have to feel as bad about running from God. So, I dare say that running from God means running from the positive influences in your life, including some of your best friends.
Then, there’s the church. Here’s the thing… I know how annoying and cliché it sounds to say that running from God means running from the church. But it’s 2018, and we have some phenomenal churches out there. It is 100% unrealistic to pretend that you can’t find a good church. I mean… C’mon. I’m not buying it. (Link to AMAZING church here). If you can’t find a church, how hard are you looking? Have you considered online church? Have you considered changing your preferred church criteria? If you’re not in church, you might be running from God. Plain and simple… and if you’re not running from God, stay out of church a little longer and see how long it takes for you to start running from Him.
All the other things… This covers the Pinterest Bible verse pictures, Christian music channels on Spotify, your Sprinkle of Jesus app that you just deleted, and all the random ways that lead you back to the path where God placed you and wants you. Eliminating these things from your life can seem so nonchalant at the time, but it’s part of the running process. For the athletes out there, it’s like lacing up. For the vocalists, it’s the warm-up before your song. It’s the first few steps of the run where you are getting comfortable with falling out of touch with God.
We’ll pause here for now and come back to what you are running from in a few.
You are running for a reason.
Nobody just stops doing ministry for absolutely no reason at all. There’s always a reason. You get your feelings hurt, your ego comes out, you don’t get the job you wanted, you don’t get enough out of it, you get bored. These are some of the reasons a lot of us get stuck on the path. See, God places you on a path… we often call this “God’s will.” So, we’re on this path, just doing God’s work, and everything is moving great, life is good, and then we start to slow down on the Christian journey. Maybe you just aren’t feeling it anymore. This is the slowdown, and then eventually you slow to a stop. These are some of the reasons that you stop on the path.
Once you stop, you begin to see the other paths because now you aren’t as invested in church, building relationships, growing in your faith, so you have all this new-found time to explore. And yes, the grass looks greener… But (Bieber/Big Sean reference approaching) The grass ain’t greener on the other side… It’s green where you water it. So listen up. Your grass isn’t greener because it’s brown. And it’s brown because you STOPPED watering it. And you stopped watering it because you started to fade. You slowed down. You took a step back in a ministry position to “find yourself” when in reality, you aren’t put on this planet to find yourself… You are set here to discover GOD and help OTHERS find Him. So there’s that… The grass looks greener, and you start to stray.
This is the point where you are in a position to run. You’ve cut ties. You’ve slowed to a stop. You are now in the prime position to run from God. So the question is Why? Why are you running from God? This is usually where that question can be answered. Feelings of guilt creep in, wondering if you’ve made the right choice. Negativity pokes at you causing you to feel ashamed from slowing down and stopping. Feelings of shame or regret or even just the feeling you get when you know you are starting to stray from God, that feeling becomes uncomfortable. You begin to feel uncomfortable. So…. you pick up your things, and you run. Because Heaven forbid that we feel uncomfortable.
Let me give you a glance at how this looks in my life… God starts calling me into a direction that I’m not really sure of, and He answers that prayer of Oh God, please just show me Your plan. Please reveal Your plan to me. So, He does, and instead of seeing this as His plan, the one that I prayed for, I’m like, yeahhhh maybe not. I’m not really feeling equipped, or I do the whole I’m just gonna take some time and think or the best response… I’m gonna pray about it meaning I’m going to take some time away from meaningful ministry opportunities, close all the doors, and not actually pray but kinda press pause on God and hope that He gives me a different calling in the meantime. This is my life, ya’ll. I am presently living in this example right now, and it is taking me writing this blog post in true preaching to the choir fashion to see if I can get myself back on the path. So, trust me… I can relate to running from God.
Sidebar: The longer you stray from the path, the harder it is to get back on the path.
You are going nowhere.
As someone who is currently in this place, I find myself reflecting on the last couple of months for a few reasons. I want to see how this all started, like when did I slow down and at what point did I stop and start running. Also, how long have I been running, and at any point, did I look back? I find myself assessing the situation, and during said assessment, I am finding that I am literally going nowhere, and not even fast, just nowhere at all. The longer I run, the faster I run, the more nowhere I get.
It’s at this point of realization that I started to consider jumping back on the right path, God’s path… It’s the one where He has a plan for me, and He directs my ways and wants to take me into a place of deeper understanding and into a place where I fulfill my calling and purpose in life… It’s the place I’ve been praying for all these years. I start to contemplate if I’m ready to go back to learning about God and growing in my relationship with Him, and as I start considering these things, I get a text from that prayer warrior I’ve stopped talking to. Somehow, Siri hears me say words like faith and prayer, so she hacks my Pinterest, and the Bible verse pictures start popping up on my feed again. God shows up, even when I’m not sure if I’m ready to show up. He’s back at rehearsal or practice prepared to coach me, even though I haven’t packed my stuff back up and decided if I’m attending today’s training. But He shows up. He sends me reminders in the form of random songs lyrics popping into my head, and little God winks here and there. He shows up the way He has been showing up every day since I started to slow down.
Let’s go back to what we are running from when we run from God.
When you are running from God, you are running from all things good. See there is nothing apart from God that is good, so to run from Him means to run from goodness, like actual goodness. This is weird since we want good things, so it begs the questions, why are you running from good things?
You are also running from success. Not just like Instagram stardom success and financial success because you can actually achieve these pretty easily when you run away from God, but you run from the victory that sets your heart on fire, the success that gives you a reason to keep breathing, the progress that makes life make sense. Running from God only leads to a life of failure in the attempt to gain a full and transparent experience of your divine purpose in life.
Let’s not forget His blessings. When you run from God, you run from His blessings. That’s not to say that you won’t have a little good fortune here and there even if you run from Him. It also doesn’t mean that your world will inevitably come crashing down the moment you take your eyes off Jesus. We don’t all get the Peter walking on water experience. It does mean that you forfeit God’s best. You don’t get all of His blessings anymore. Running from God involves running from the very best He has for you.
With it being so simply put, we continue to beg the question, why run from God? The answer is easy, unlike walking the Christian walk or living a life that mirrors the life of Christ. The reason we walk away from God or run from Him is that if this life of following Him were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. Following God’s plan, getting deep into His will for you, and living a sold-out life wholly dedicated to Christ is hard work. It often comes with persecution, temptation, heartbreak, confusion, and lots of distractions. It’s in the moments where we don’t feel comfortable that we consider running from God. We run because we think it’s more comfortable, but once we get back on the path, it’s like catching your breath after a marathon… You can finally breathe again.
– the Wife