I paused on the staircase, overhearing my boys’ conversation. One was saying, “If you want me to go get the suitcase in the storage room, I will.” The other said, “No, I can fit all my stuff in my bag.” 

I walked into the bedroom, and they both sort of stood at attention–which, by the way, isn’t normal at our house. So I said, “Hi guys. Is somebody planning to run away?” By the awkward way they looked down, it was obvious that I was correct.
I said, “So, here’s the deal. You’re both free to go at any time. Nobody is locked into our house. But I want you to remember one thing: Nobody, I mean nobody out there will love you as much as Daddy and I do. We are happy to share our home with you. You can eat our food, sleep in our beds, watch our TV, and jump on our trampoline. But when I ask you to vacuum the family room, I expect you to do it without throwing a fit. That’s just part of living here. Good luck finding a better gig out there.”
Runaways are often driven by some sense of injustice. (At least the type of runaways who never make it past the mailbox are.) My son was contemplating running away because I made him vacuum.

You may have bigger grievances. Maybe you’ve experienced cancer or infidelity or unemployment or losing a baby. You’re filled with injustice, wondering why anybody would be part of God’s family if this is what he dishes out. So you’re packing your bags.

But God overhears. He always does. And his voice is far more tender than mine was when he says, “Just remember that no one will love you more than I. I am happy to share all that I have with you. I have all the comfort and grace you need, and I will always be a very present help in times of trouble.”

And God is a way better parent than I am. He doesn’t say anything about the door being open, or good luck finding a better gig. Rather, he says that no one can snatch his children away. They are each tucked securely into his hand (John 10:28).

‘But what about all of this injustice?’, the Runaway asks, her suitcase in hand.

And this is where my parenting is a bit more reflective of God’s. Sometimes, when I have my kids vacuum, it’s not because the carpet needs it, but because my kids do. I wouldn’t make the neighbor kids vacuum. Only my own. Because it’s good for them–for their training.

And God says that when he disciplines us, he’s treating us like sons. (Hebrews 12:6-11) He asks that we endure the deeply painful circumstances which seem needless or unfair. He says that it’s good for us–for our training.

But he doesn’t turn on his heel and say, “Your choice.” No, he gently comforts the runaway with his plans for the future saying, “Soon I will call you to my side, to live in the place I am preparing for you. On that day, I’ll wipe the tears from your face, and justice will be yours! So, unpack for a time. The place I’m preparing for you has everything you need.”

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Luke 18:7

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