My best friend, who I’ve known since college days, called me the other day. She was very upset and asked me to pray. Their son, David, had run away from home.
David is 17. He was severely neglected in his birth home until the age of 4, when he was placed in foster care with my friend’s family. They adopted him as their own a year later. The effects of the sort of severe neglect David suffered have colored his life however, making it difficult to form relationships, and difficult to navigate life in a socially appropriate way. Despite this he is very bright.
No one really knows why David ran away. He was in a loving environment with parents and siblings who loved him. My friend’s family is quite well-off, so David also had all the comforts and benefits money affords, including all the medical and psychological help available. But while they were vacationing on the other side of the mountains, he emptied his bank account, bought a new phone, and simply disappeared. After desperately searching for several days, they finally packed up and went home – without David.
It has been nearly a week and there is still no word from him. The police have offered very little assistance – this is a runaway, not a kidnapping.
Because of David’s lack of social abilities and some of his other difficulties, my friend is unsure if he can survive alone, and if he needed help, whether he would know how to get it or be willing to ask for it.
In the middle of all of this my friend and her family are in agony. The kind of heart-rending agony that only deep love can cause.
As I have been thinking about and praying for David and his family, it has occurred to me that David’s relationship to his family is not entirely unlike our relationship to God. God reaches out to his people and graciously plucks them out of a situation not unlike David’s. (Ez. 16:1-14) He adopts us in Christ, as his own children and offers us all the benefits of that relationship. Yet like David, we are prone to wander, prone to think that we know better than God, prone to think our way is best.
Despite all of this, Luke pictures God in much the same way I see my friend and her family. Despite our rebellion and stupidity, God is searching for us (Luke 15:1-10), scanning the horizon, waiting for us to come to our senses (Luke 15:11-32) and recognize that the yoke of serving Christ will always be lighter than the supposed freedom of the world around us. The responsibilities and obligations of being adopted children will always be outweighed by the benefits.
For those of you who happen to read this post, will you please pray for David’s safe return and for the peace of God’s presence for his family.