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.
Psalm 139: 7-10

Sheryl flung her cell phone wildly and watched it land at her finance’s feet as she stormed past him and down the driveway.

“Stop! Sher, come back. Where are you going?” he pleaded.

“Just leave me alone, Jason. I release you. You don’t need all this. I’m probably going to lose all my hair and look like hell. You didn’t sign up for this.”  She spun around and rushed toward the sidewalk.

“Yes. I did. I signed up for it and more,” he called after her – unsure if she even heard him.

He hoped she would blow off some steam and return soon. Dusk fell and she didn’t. He got in his car and crawled through the neighborhood looking, but not finding his love.

The sun was beginning to set when Sheryl slowed her pace. Her feet were starting to hurt. How long had she been walking? She felt the hard lump at the top of her right breast and relived the conversation she had with the surgeon earlier today. Ugly words floated through her mind. Mastectomy. Chemo. Radiation.

Statistics taunted her with life and death threats. Her heart was thumping against her chest. How long would it continue to beat? Would she even see her fortieth birthday? When should she tell her parents that she was calling off her engagement? She wanted to kick and scream and cry. Instead, she kept walking.

Jason finally spotted her four miles from his home. She was sitting on the curb rubbing her feet. She looked up as he parked across the street and edged out of his car tentatively. He eased himself down onto the curb beside her.  “Hey. You ready to come back to my place?”

She glanced at him sideways, her mascara-streaked face looking sad and unsure. “Oh Jason, I’m so sorry. I just don’t know if I can do this. You don’t get to marry the girl you thought you were. I’m going to look like a freak.”

“I don’t care how you look. I love you.”

“I could die.”

“I want to be your husband. I want to go through every test and procedure right by your side. It will kill me if you don’t let me.”

“I’m so scared.”

“I know. I am, too. But you’re not doing this alone, baby. We’re in this together. I’m not going anywhere.”

Have you ever run from someone out of fear or shame?
We put up barriers and reject others before they can reject us. Many of us also run from God at some point in our lives as well. No matter what the reason, God pursues us. It’s not in his nature to leave us alone in our struggles and insecurities.

Though the story above is fictionalized, something similar occurred in our family some years ago. The “Jason” in our story, pursued his “Sheryl” with great love and patience. He was pushed away more than once. When “Sheryl” fell into a dark hole of despair for weeks at a time, he showed up. That is what love does. That is what God does for us.

Whether you have a personal relationship with Jesus or not, God is pursuing you. First, he gives you endless opportunities to receive his forgiveness and be reconciled with him through his son. Then once you have, he is a constant presence in your life. You are never alone – even when you feel as if you are.

Psalm 139 is a beautiful picture of God’s intimate love for us. His unfathomable knowledge about us can be intimidating. How can He love us when we can be so unlovable? How can he accept us knowing all the awful things we are thinking or sometimes doing? We’ll never fully comprehend it this side of heaven. We don’t need to. Just accept it. Receive it.

King David wrote Psalm 139 at a time in his life when he’d experienced God’s power and presence for many years. God called him “a man after my own heart”. (Acts 13:22) And yet, David had sinned egregiously. He had taken another man’s wife, got her pregnant, and orchestrated her husband’s murder so he could cover up his sin.

How can a person feel close to God after that kind of behavior? Surely, he was not praising God during his affair. He was running from God. And God was pursuing him.

David was brought under deep conviction by his friend Nathan and realized even a King must submit to God’s ways. He poured out his confession in humility in Psalm 51 which experts believe was written at least 10 years before Psalm 139. Listen to the cry of his heart:

Have mercy on me, O God according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Psalm 51: 1-4 (NIV)

Conviction leading to confession and repentance is powerful. Even if our only sin is lack of faith and trust in God, our first step to wholeness begins in total surrender. David learned this well. Listen to his powerful request after his repentance:

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51: 10-12

Are you running from God? Do you doubt his love because of a difficult circumstance you’re facing? He understands your fear. He catches each of your tears. But he wants you to trust him no matter what the outcome of your situation. It’s hard. So. So. Hard. Nevertheless, pursue a faith that believes that God rewards us when we earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

How do we have the kind of faith that pleases God?
It takes a lot of prayer and time alone with Jesus to experience his peace “which surpasses all understanding”. It takes a deep relationship with him to trust him in the middle of our most difficult circumstances.

When God seems silent or far away, he’s not. Sometimes, he’s just waiting for you to take the first step. He’s sitting on the curb with you asking, “Are you ready to come with me on this journey? We’re in this together. I’m not going anywhere.”

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.  Psalm 139: 1-6

A Prayer
Lord, it is so hard to imagine how fully you know me and still love me. When I am scared or running from you, please remind me to read your beautiful love letter of Psalm 139. I pray that I believe this with my heart. I pray as David did that you will search my heart and show me where I am going astray.  Lead me in your perfect everlasting way. Amen.