When the Escape Plan Doesn’t Work Out So Well

Nov 18

I grabbed my backpack, took an apple from the bowl on the table, pocketed  two of my favorite Hot Wheels and marched out the house.

 I wasn’t going to take it anymore! I was eight and I was a childhood runaway.

I made it all the way to the Dutra’s house where they had a secret hide-out in the back yard. I sat down and rested. It was a quick stop, a layover, a resting point before I made my final dash to freedom.  It had been a long journey so far, and I had a long ways to go. It was just eight houses away, but it was a first step away from my problems.

The day was warm and the emotions were strong, and before you know it, I had fallen asleep, the excitement of being a runaway overcoming me.  Mrs. Dutra woke me, seeing my tear-stained face. “Just go home,” she said.

What was I thinking? Where would I sleep? What would I eat? What would I wear? I burst through and I told my Mom I had run away and I was sorry and I wouldn’t do it again. She smiled and pushed some cookies and Kool Aid toward me. “Welcome home.”

 When you want to run

Running away sounded like it’s a great big adventure but in the end, it was a big flop.

Every time I’ve run away since, I’ve had the premise of rebellion and adventure and finding something better. The green grass, the bliss, the peace all call from the other side.  It’s the ultimate escape when things don’t go my way.  I constantly hear the urge to drop everything and go. But it never fails to fail me.

I see runaways every day and I want to tell them to just go home.  When the marriage rumbles, and words are minced by emotion and actions are misread by every whim. Run.

runaway child


When things at work are difficult and the boss is demanding and no one understands. Run.

When the church doesn’t pay any attention to my ideas and

the music gets loud or the preacher doesn’t honor some deep seated belief. Run.

When the friendship needs a little more work and it’s not all fun and games and there’s more bandages needed than I have. Run.

Everyone it seems has an escape plan. They think they can survive as a runaway from life and it will be better on the other side.

And I run from God too. When the hard sayings teachings make me wobble, the internal self against the eternal truth should be an easy choice. But it isn’t.  Running from truth doesn’t make it any less true.

I pack my knapsack and announce that I’m leaving. But it never lasts. Maybe for a couple of hours, or days, or weeks. At one point in my life it was for an entire year. But before long, the call for home is too loud.

 Earnestly, tenderly

There was an insurrection against Jesus outlined in one of the Gospel teachings. When the masses realized that he wasn’t going to be a meal ticket, they left in droves. Jesus turned to the disciples and asked, “Will you leave too?”  They looked around and said, “Where else would we go?” and “You have the words of life.”

To know you cannot run is both frightening and comforting. I want to hide, but I desperately want to be found.

”Where can I flee from your presence?” asked King David.

And he still finds a way to minister to my heart, even when I run. He ra

ins manna while I wander in my desert. He prepares a banquet table while I’m still slopping pigs. He whispers to me while I shiver under the broom tree. He teaches me in the belly of the whale. He cooks breakfast for me after I return to my nets.

Now that I’ve seen the Promised Land through the haze of mystery, I cannot forget that this is my homeThere’s nowhere else I want to go.

Have you ever run away? How did it work out for you?




  1. I grew up in the projects in West Mifflin, PA. They were apartments built during the war for the steel workers. Each cluster of 3 or 4 had a courtyard. We used to play in the courtyard all the time. I ran away once…to the next courtyard where I found some friends. I forgot all about running away. I tried running away from God a time or two by doing my own thing. That didn’t work out very well either. Great post David.

  2. this warms my heart David, when we feel that urge to run, let’s run INTO Him

  3. When I was ten, my folks were locked in the throes of combat fueled by their alcoholism. In that environment, kids act out and/or perform poorly in school (hard to do well when you don’t sleep well due to the screaming and sounds of things breaking in the next room). My folks thought sending me off to a boarding school would help; I was brought to the place the last week in August and was sexually assaulted that first night, and each night subsequently through the rest of my time there. It turned out the school was where the Commonwealth send kids who were one arrest away from reform school. I made an attempt to run from there one night but was chased down and caught by the kids who were abusing me. I lacked the vocabulary to tell my parents what was happening to me, and couldn’t tell them the truth about the reason I had black eyes or other bruises for the same reason.

    In early December, there was a winter storm that dropped a foot of snow, followed by ice, that closed the roads and killed the electricity for several days, including the weekend. When the roads were finally cleared and power restored, they bused all of us Roman Catholic kids into town for an evening Mass. Another boy, who was getting abused the same way in a different dormitory, slipped out the back door with me, and we began walking towards my home town, a distance of some ten miles. We evaded being caught, and I only gave up because the other boy could no longer feel his feet from the cold and snow getting in his shoes – less than two miles from home. Once my dad picked us up, and brought me home, I was finally able to tell what had happened to me. They brought Robert back to the school, but I never had to return.

    I spent years after that trying to kill how I felt about what had happened to me. Only God could fix me – not sex, not booze, not dope in any form. I had to face what happened and stop trying to always run away from my problems, for they would be with me no matter what. First thing to do? Stop running.

    • Rick.
      Sharing this story on these pages is courageous. I hope it spurs others who had tough starts and bad circumstances to turn and face the issues. What makes the difference is that you are not alone — and it often takes one courageous person who will give others what they need, like you and your friend. Most of all, for those who read these words, know that are not alone, that it’s not your fault.

      Running is so tempting, and yet it never really works.

      • Amen, David. So, so courageous. And the “upside potential” is tremendous. Rick, thank you.

      • Youbetcha, Bro! Thank YOU!

      • I tried to leave a reply earlier, but my network connection went fluky on me :)

        I share the story – which I don’t tell often for the obvious reason – precisely because I’m letting others know they are not alone. It took a long time before I would come to know that it was not my fault.

        Running away from that school and that situation was absolutely the right thing to do – but running frommost problems doesn’t work. Running to the One who can help is the right answer, but one our culture doesn’t support and our Adversary does its best to convince us no one’s home.

        Thanks for this post, David.

    • Thank you for telling this hard story, Rick. I cannot imagine such abandonment, such horror. I am so grateful that you told someone, that you finally turned round to yourself and found your way home. Blessings on you as you continue to discover how good it is to stop running.

    • Sir Rick – this is a heartbreaking story, indeed. Sometimes we must run and/or hide from eminent and immediate danger; but, as you shared, we can never run from the horrors done unto us. Thankfully those who know the Lord as Savior have the best-est, strongest, safest, healing-est One to hold us and make us whole.

      Have you ever heard the song called “Perfectly Broken” (by Geraldine Koehn, 1988 – no copyright)? Oh my word. I heard it yesterday for the first time. It is a Mennonite song.

      Come and be Perfectly broken, this is God’s plan; Perfectly broken by an unseen hand; Return all the pieces, your heart and soul, Be perfectly broken, be perfectly whole.

      another line:
      Broken and blessed when He does the mending, And fit for service true; Contrite and willing, and all to His glory; A picture completely new.

      Rick, may the Lord bless you as you shine His light.

      • I’ve never heard the hymn, Darlene ma’am, but I’ll look it up for a listen. Doing my best to be a mirror of His love and a model of His healing. Thanks! :)

  4. I’ll tell you on Thursday.

  5. lschontos /

    I was going to say I’ve never physically run away, but then I remembered the Bible Study a couple of years ago where I was totally misunderstood. I felt such an outsider – so I picked up my Bible and walked away. I think I am the one who suffered the most. I’m sure I wasn’t missed, and I still feel sad about it all.
    No it really doesn’t work.

    • Oh miss Linda. Even though you left the Bible study, for whatever reason, God never left you. Sometimes personality conflicts are enough to walk away from something… I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong in that.

      Love you.


  6. I am like Baa-lam’s donkey, I have a hard time running away physically. I did once – from an abusive marriage when I knew they were going to drug me or kill me. Emotionally and spiritually I’ve run away but God never has abandoned me. It seems that sense of Him so close was the one thing that kept me from losing it all together. I’m working on the healing and am now quite a vocal advocate for those who don’t have the strength to use their voice to speak out against abuse.

    I wonder, sometimes, if I had run away when I was younger what would have happened. It’s like that old saying – waiting in a prison cell dark, some see steel bars and others gaze at the stars.

    God always held my gaze to the stars, and I forgot for a time that there were bars as He bent His will to my freedom.

    Thank you for this post. I needed it today.

    • A very good response. And I am rethinking some of what I wrote. Obviously, not all running is bad. For some, like you, it’s necessary. But it’s what we run TO and not always what we run FROM that’s the key to our long term health. Thank you so much for adding to this converstation

      • :-) I think you have something there – running to something like shelter, Jesus or safety is important. Running to run can lead to bigger challenges (fire pan and fire). Knowing what we are running from (Jonah anyone? ha ha) is also so important. The running is a big part but the reasons and direction are so critical. Thanks for replying. :-)

  7. Dear David
    Why does it always seem that the grass is greener on the other side. One thing that was so worth running away from, it was organized Churchianity. I am forever thankful that I left that behind for it was a stumbling block in my way to finding our Lord Jesus! It can sometimes seems to be a lonely road, but we are never ever alone.
    Blessings XX

    • The green grass on the other side of the fence often gives me a stomache ache! It’s not always what its cracked up to be. Obviously, change requires careful prayer and leading from God and should be done with caution and gentle leading from the Savior

  8. David, I had a very similar story to yours. When I was 6 I ran away, all the way across the street to my friends house! It took my parents about 15 mins to realize I was gone. I knew it was over when I heard my dad knocking on the door. Theses kinds of stories are always a great reminder to me of my relationship with God the Father. How often do I think that life would be better outside of God’s care and protection? Thankfully He always brings me back and shows me that life is indeed better with my Father!

  9. So beautiful.
    There is nowhere I can go…it all begins and ends with God. I’ve tried running- it was horrible. Yet through it all God was guiding me back. His love endures all the tantrums I throw when I feel like life is getting too real.

    There is currently something I want to run from, but I know that I can’t. God is whispering words of encouragement as I travel a road I’d rather run from. But His grace is enough!

  10. How solid and comforting is the promises of God that he never forsakes us. My heart is encouraged as I read your post and comments for our son is running from the Lord now. And I know first hand God never waste any wound we incurred from others or even those we bring upon ourselves. He is a complete God, dealing with our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows in one final stroke of pain on the cross. Thanks God we cannot run far enough or deep enough that he cannot reach us. Thanks brother for the reminder.

    • Betty, prayers for your son. My family is full of runners — including a wife who never came home. What you said, “God never wastes any wound we incur from others” is just powerfully true. “A complete God!” WOW!

  11. I can remember once, earlier in my marriage, when my kids were young, walking out the front door and driving around for about 2 hours. I just needed OUT. But I ‘came to myself,’ and came home again. That’s as far as I’ve gone with the running away game. But I think there are other ways to escape, ways that are not necessarily healthy and need to be looked at regularly. “Too much” is a very popular way to escape – too much food/drink/sex/shopping/exercise/whatever. And we need to come home to ourselves and to God when we try to stuff whatever is weighing on us with any kind of stuff. Thanks for this, David. Truly.

  12. I’ve ran from God… I knew the story of Jonah as a kid, but was still to dense to grasp that running from God around a globe that He holds in His hand is insanity. Now, like you, I run to Him. I have no other refuge but Him.

  13. Anonymous /

    David, this is great.

    At an early age I learned to run away emotionally to drown out the childhood mishaps and pain. However, in the quiet of my bedroom I would talk with God for many years. It was when I learned I could run into His loving arms, I did not have to run away any longer. I was Home!

  14. David, this is great.

    At an early age I learned to run away emotionally from my childhood mishaps and pain. However, in the quite of my bedroom I would always talk with God. It was when I learned I could run in to His loving arms I did not have to run any longer. I was Home!

  15. “Running from truth doesn’t make it any less true” Very true! I had to learn that the hard way…on the run. Great Post

  16. David, this is great.

    At an early age I learned to run from the mishaps and pain of my childhood.

    However, even back then, in the the quietness of my bedroom, I would always talk to God. It wasn’t until I learned to run to Him that I realized, I was Home.

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