She was running away from me down the beach as fast as her little six-year-old legs could carry her, and for a few awful seconds, I was afraid I wouldn’t catch her.
We had taken our Girl Scout troop on an outing to the beach for the afternoon. I had just met Jayne that morning as she climbed into my car, and her mom had cautioned me that loud noises could upset her because she had autism.
Jayne had very few issues during the day as we visited the marine science museum and then spent a couple hours playing on the beach. But then it was time to leave. I was 50 yards away from the water, and I watched from afar as one of the other leaders said something to Jayne, and then Jayne took off. She was running south along the water. The beach was crowded. She was getting away quickly. I took off running diagonally down the beach towards the little girl in the blue swimsuit. I’m not a runner, people. But you gotta do what you gotta do.
Jayne was running, but then kind of skipping too. I couldn’t figure out what she was doing. I thought she just didn’t realize she was going away from our troop. She was probably just distracted.
I was wrong.
I was running at medium speed, assuming that if I could call to her and get her attention, she would stop and come back to me. As I closed the gap between us, I called out, “Jayne!...Jayne!...Jaynie!”
She finally heard me and looked back. When she saw me coming….she ran faster.
And I thought, “Oh. Crap.”
I took off as fast as I could, and I felt a panic rising. What if I couldn’t catch her? My heart was pounding as I pushed myself, and I began to gain on her. I yelled, “I’m going to have to grab you!” She didn’t really know me, and I didn’t want to scare her.
Suddenly she was within my reach, and I threw my body in front of hers and grabbed her in a loose bear hug. I hunched over her, trying to recover physically and emotionally. It was so scary.
My chest hurt. I could hardly breathe. I was hunched over her little body, holding her gently. I was feeling shocked that this just happened.
I gasped for breath as I said, “Jayne…you…can’t…run away…from…the adults…who are…supposed to….take…care of…you…Your mom…sent you…with us…because she…knew…you would…be safe…with us…”
She didn’t try to escape. I took her hand and stood up. She began to walk back towards the rest of the group with me. I said, “What if you had kept running? You would have been lost, and alone, and scared, and cold. We would have had to call the police to find you.”
“You can’t run away from the adults who are supposed to take care of you.”
We made it back safely to the group, and I drove Jayne and the other girls a couple of hours back home. When it was all over, and Jayne was safely back to her mother, I was still reliving how crazy that was. It really scared me.
Later, as I was watering my lawn, I suddenly thought, “Adults do that too. So many people try to run away from God, when He’s the One who just wants to take care of them and keep them safe.”
Do you realize how much God loves you? Wherever you go, He is there. He will never stop pursuing your heart. He wants you to know His love.
The Bible says in Psalm 139:1-10,
“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. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up 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 on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
Isn’t this beautiful? He is always with you, whether you acknowledge Him or not. He is always waiting for you to turn and choose Him.
Revelation 3:20 says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
He’s just waiting for you to invite Him in. He’s the One who wants the very best for you. But you have to give Him your heart first. You have to recognize your need for a Savior. No one is without sin, which separates us from God. Because of that, God sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so we could be forgiven.
So what must you do to receive this gift? You must accept Christ as your Savior. He is the only way to forgiveness, to the Father, and to Heaven.
To invite Christ into your heart, you just have to talk to Him. You can say a simple prayer such as this:
I heard this song in church a couple of days after Jayne ran away from me on the beach, and I've been singing it ever since. Maybe you need to hear it today.
"Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling.
Have you come to the end of yourself?
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling.
O come to the altar,
The Father's arms are open wide.
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ..."
My friend, isn't it time to stop running? You will never shake this God who loves you with an everlasting love. Wherever you go, He is there, pursuing you.