You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5
There came a point in my life when I felt the unrelenting desire to leave my hometown of Bismarck, ND. It was a strange turn of events for me because I had never really considered moving before. After three years of praying for God to either show me where to go or to remove the desire from my heart completely, I decided to try contract work. The outsourcing positions for medical coding would allow me to literally move anywhere because my work would either be home based or traveling in nature. I felt it would at least enable me to move once God showed me the way.
My first assignment as a traveling medical coder was at a county hospital in the San Francisco Bay area. It was quite an adjustment for me. My hometown in North Dakota had a population of just under 65,000.
Surprisingly, I adapted to freeway travel rather smoothly. And although the freeways came with an increased risk of injury compared to the roads I traveled at home, they weren’t the area of deepest concern for me.
The workplace, which one would normally consider a safe haven, carried significant risks. Hospitals attract people from all walks of life. And even though I worked in a secured area, another employee at the very same hospital was assaulted in the lady’s room during one of her shifts.
My hotel also caused me great concern. It was located in a rougher part of the city. There were several restaurants nearby and so there were lots of people frequenting the area near my room. On one occasion a gentleman searching for his lost sister insisted I was holding her inside my room. After answering the door for the third time, my husband contacted security to assist us. Thank goodness my family had traveled with me on that occasion. I’m not sure how I would have handled that situation on my own. And on the evening I heard gunshots ring out, all the fire safety training from grade school (stop, drop and roll) definitely paid off. I stopped what I was doing, dropped to the floor and crawled into the bathroom to hide.
Before long my entire life revolved around hiding. I would drive to work and hide in our locked office. I would drive to the hotel and hide in my room. I would buy food at the cafeteria before leaving work so I didn’t have to go out to eat. You might say it was a severe case of self-imposed risk management. The less I was out and about, the less risk I faced.
After months of this new, crazy routine I began to feel very tired. At first I chalked it up to stress and working 12 hour days. But when the exhaustion didn’t let up in spite of adjusting my sleep schedule I decided to have it checked out. Fortunately what the doctor found wasn’t too serious. After running some blood tests she discovered I had a severe vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is found in many of the foods we eat, but another way we take it in is from spending time in the sun. And sunbathing was not part of my risk stratified routine! Yes, I am probably the only person to ever work in the sunny “golden state” and acquire a Vitamin D deficiency!
This wasn’t the first time I found myself in a dangerous place hiding from the sun. Often when I’ve made what I consider a huge mistake, I will close my heart off from the world in an attempt to protect myself; all the while hiding from God’s Son. And in time it exhausts me and leaves me lacking in many ways. If I could just admit my error and go to Christ for forgiveness first, I might avoid a lot of the struggles and strife.
Can you relate? Let’s trust God’s amazing grace. No situation we find ourselves in is beyond the reach of His love and mercy. Call out to Him. Christ died to cover our sins. He set us free from the debts our sin created. We are no longer slaves to sin and the shame that accompanies it. We are redeemed. And even though the Holy Spirit has joined our spirit and made us brand new; we have a lifetime of behaviors we had learned to survive before we accepted Christ. We will not be able to change all of that overnight. And when we do struggle, when our behavior isn’t consistent with who we are in Christ, there is no need to hide. God’s grace is enough for each and every one of us. We only need to turn to Him. In fact, hiding from God when we have made a mistake is like a drowning man hiding from the life-preserver floating next to him. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. He already knows your faults and weaknesses. We just need to embrace that He is our only need.
Lord, Your word tells us that anyone that is in Christ is a new creation. Help us to embrace this truth. Looking back over my life, I can say with all confidence that I am not who I once was. We each need to realize this. We each need to learn a new way of living. Show us the work You accomplished on the cross and in our hearts. Equip us to walk in the freedom Christ’s sacrifice bought for us. Help us to comprehend Your love for us. And create in us a desire and a will to grow closer to You each and every day. Amen