“Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.” Psalm 139:7-10
Where are you today? Fascinatingly enough, this was the first recorded question from the mouth of God found in Scripture. Adam and Eve had sinned, and they hid from God. Of course God knew exactly where they were but He wanted to expose the true reason behind why they were hiding. We can get so busy with life that we forget to press pause and evaluate where we are and why we are in that space in that particular season.
Personally, my favorite escape is to the ocean. It calms and quiets my soul and reminds me to behold the master Creator. It reminds me that regardless of where I am, He is big enough and strong enough and powerful enough to handle my circumstances. It refocuses me on what God’s purposes are for my life. And, it is relaxing. However, because of where I live, my second-best escape is to the mountains. As my car drives further up the mountain, the pressures and stresses of life begin to ease from my shoulders and mind. Quiet reigns up in those mountains. Natural beauty abounds. Wildlife roam freely in their natural habitats. I love it. The views are breathtaking. Again, this escape clears my head of the noise and I can sit and soak up the presence of God.
The concept of escaping can be a running from something or someone as well running towards something or someone. Adam and Eve felt ashamed, thus compelling them to run from, to escape the presence of God–or so they thought. Sin can be like that in our lives too. Our sin, our shame, and even our ghosts can haunt us to the point of searching for an escape. When that happens, our tendency can be to fill our lives with noise and activity so that we don’t have to confront them or confess them. We think we can outrun God and escape Him, forgetting that He loves us and wants to bring beauty from the ashes of the fires we ourselves set ablaze. In those moments, we lose sight of the loving-kindness, goodness, and grace of God. Sure, there can be natural consequences of our sins but Jesus already paid the ultimate penalty for them, and He awaits our running towards Him with His arms outstretched towards us, offering us a place of forgiveness and rest. And He will carry us through the consequences.
Still, those other moments exist. The ones where life feels overwhelming and we feel like we cannot handle or take one more thing. These times are not a result of sin in our lives, but simply are the by-product of certain stages of living. The pressures mount and all we want to do is escape for a little while. We don’t care where or how, just this urgency to escape, for an hour, a day, a week, and maybe even months. What do we do in those times? I know I have cried out to God in moments like those asking Him, “Where are YOU? Do You not see me? What do I do now?” I think that is the beginning of the answer. Our escape is truly cathartic, healing, and restful when we begin to see Jesus as our way of escape, when we begin to run towards Him in both our stresses and our sins.
The reality is we cannot escape the presence of God. He is omnipresent and omniscient, meaning He is everywhere and all-knowing. He knows our thoughts. He knows why we are escaping. He knows when we are angry at Him. And He wants to be our escape. David wrote Psalm 139 and penned the words, “Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee Your presence?” Sounds to me like he was writing this from personal experience. We cannot outrun God. And really, why do we want to? Whether we are hiding in sin and shame or running on fumes because life has beaten us down, He wants to become our escape. In Matthew 11:28, He said the most beautiful words, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Years ago, I ran from God. By His grace, He chased me and never let me escape Him, even when I didn’t want to hear what He was saying to me. I kept running (no wonder I am so good at running!) and He kept following me. Until I stopped and turned towards Him. I didn’t necessarily like being confronted with my sins, but as I was on my knees, broken before Him, He lifted up head to look at Him. Every single sin, every single moment of shame and regret, He bore in His body on the cross of Calvary to set me free. I didn’t have to keep running–the only place left to run, to escape, was into His arms.
As I escaped into the mountains for some much-needed recharging and refreshing, I was most excited because I realized that Jesus had become my great escape. I was traveling into the mountains to get alone on the mountaintop to pray. Every step of the hike, I poured out my heart to Him and I listened for His whispered reply. Jesus provided the mountains to me as His escape for me, His gift. As I returned home that day, my heart felt much lighter, my soul was refreshed, and I knew that without a doubt, Jesus had become my escape, and I was now running towards Him. It all began with a single step towards Him and a heart willing to be vulnerable in His presence.
Is Jesus your escape today? If so, pause to praise Him and reflect on how far He has brought you. If not, stop running, turn around, and behold the waiting arms of Jesus. I promise you He is trustworthy and He is the only true escape!