God’s love reaches farther than you can run away

Cats are constant at Safe Haven Farm. Except for a few recent years, we have always have a kitten or two around. The most recent litter we welcomed had seven, although unfortunately the other wildlife around the farm didn’t allow that to last very long. We have owls and snakes and coyotes, and four of the seven vanished overnight. But we still had three. Until we woke up a few days ago and found only one remaining.

I was pretty torn up about that. This litter had made it so long, and I’d hoped that they would continue to do well. And even when we lost the four, we still had the three others. But only one left? Sad.

So yesterday morning when we went outside and found all three of them back like nothing had happened, we were pretty happy. The two beige kittens had gone off exploring and took their time coming back. Having them home again was a relief. And it got me thinking about homecomings in general and why they mean so much to us.

A wide-eyed kitten at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

A wide-eyed kitten at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Joel 2:12-14.

That is why the Lord says,
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve,
sending you a blessing instead of this curse.
Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine
to the Lord your God as before.

Everybody reaches that point in their life where they need to go home again. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from or even how old you are. Home is a part of us on the very basic level, and we all have to go back. That is, assuming we’ve left.

The older I get, the more I see the importance of making God your home. I love my house. I love my family. I love the close friends who mean so much to me. And while they all provide me with a certain level of comfort, they can’t match the safety and the refuge I find in my Lord. He’s always there for me. He always knows what I mean, whether I say it or not. He knows when I hurt, which is important because I rarely talk about that sort of thing out loud. He’s always around to remind me that He’s big enough for whatever problem I’m facing, and I can’t ever go far enough away that He can’t find me.

But He’s easy to run away from. Not saying you can actually outrun Him, but we all like to try. He’s just more stubborn than we are, and He won’t ever let us go.

I don’t think we can grasp the joy God feels when we turn around and come home after we’ve been wandering. Imagine being reunited with a close friend you lost contact with. You knew they were out there, but they just weren’t interested in talking to you anymore, and then all of a sudden, they’re back again. And your friendship can pick up where you left off, and you can start living life together again. Then magnify that a million and a half times.

If you’ve left home, if you’ve run away from God, turn back now. It’s tempting to keep running, believing that your actions outweigh the love He has for us, but that’s a lie the enemy whispers to keep you running scared. God’s love is stronger than anything else, especially your screw-ups.

But don’t just turn your face back to God. Don’t just make a show for the sake of people around you. God doesn’t care how impressive you look or how many words you can pray or how well you know your Bible. What matters to God is your heart.

Funky lizard staring me down at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS


The English language fascinates me. It’s a melting pot, a strange concoction of so many different languages and influences. But I imagine it’s a nightmare to try to translate from and into. I’ve worked with enough people who speak different languages (Arabic, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, German, etc.) to grasp that. English, and especially American English, is broad and indolent and verbose; American English likes the sound of its own voice. But even so, it’s a fun language to learn about because the more you learn about English, the more you learn about other languages.

Granted, I’m a word nerd. But today’s verse made me think of a word that I really haven’t heard used much recently. The word I thought of is dawdle.

Funky lizard staring me down at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Funky lizard staring me down at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is 2 Peter 3:9.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

Did anyone else hear, “Don’t dawdle!” in this verse? Or was that just me? Maybe it was just me because, again, I’m thinking this word has fallen out of common usage.

I looked it up on dictionary.com, and the word actually started into common usage around 1775, probably based on the word “daddle” which started in 1656 and meant to walk unsteadily. The thought is that the daw bird influenced the word because of its reputation of being sluggish and silly. And that’s what dawdle means. To waste time. Being sluggish. Being idle. Lingering for no purpose other than to linger. It’s the kind of word I used to think only stiff and proper nannies used when telling unruly children to get busy.

The thing about dawdling is that it’s purposeless. It’s a waste.

And what I see in this verse today is that God isn’t dawdling. He’s waiting. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between waiting and wasting time, but the way you can tell is that one has a purpose and the other doesn’t. Waiting means there’s a plan in action and you’re just anticipating when it’s your turn to jump in; dawdling, wasting time, is knowing the plan but refusing to jump in even when it’s your turn.

God isn’t dawdling. He has a plan. He has a purpose. He’s waiting to come back for us because He wants to give everyone the opportunity to make a choice. He’s waiting because there are still some people who are dawdling.

By that same token, it’s a good idea to think your decision through, though. Don’t make snap judgments ever. I truly believe that many people decide to follow Christ on a whim. It’s easy to say; it’s much more difficult to live. And if that decision wasn’t truly a decision made with both heart and head in tandem, it’s not real. It has to be a commitment, not just a statement. Unfortunately, I think people who don’t believe are confused by those of us who do when we tout the Christian life as easy.

Yes, there are aspects of it that are easy, but it’s not an easy life. Not by a long shot. It’s a life full of joy and gratitude and contentment and wonder and awe at what God can do. But it’s a life of sorrow too because we are constantly surrounded by darkness and contempt and foolishness–and there are days when holding up “This Little Light of Mine” makes my arm really tired. And those are the days that we need to be honest with people about.

So it’s good to think about your choices. But dawdling over choices can get you in trouble. We are a culture of procrastinators, and that would be all right if we had all the time in the world. But we don’t. You need to make sure you understand what you’re changing your mind to, but don’t dawdle about it. Know your choices. Make your choice. Don’t waste time because it’s rapidly running out.

And that works the same in life. We can linger and loiter over choices all day long, but all you’re doing is wasting time. And if God doesn’t dawdle, we shouldn’t either.

So check your heart. Are you wasting time on a decision you need to make? Are you waiting for God to show you what you need to know to make that decision? If you are, that’s between you and Him. But if you already know what you’re supposed to do, do it. Don’t dawdle.