Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Are You Running From God?

Mary Byrne “Beth” Smith is 30 years old, a mother of two children and the wife of Jason Smith, a Baptist pastor in Alabama. In March she traveled with a friend to Bossier City, Louisiana, to attend a Christian women’s conference featuring popular Bible teacher, Beth Moore. For two days she heard Bible lessons about living a life of spiritual victory by growing in faith in God.

Around 11:00 a.m. on March 24 Smith left her friend to go to the concessions stand and never returned. Later that afternoon the friend notified the police that Smith was missing.

Bossier City police used dogs, helicopters, airplanes and boats to search for Beth Smith in the days following her disappearance. An in-store video camera captured her picture in a pawn shop where she had sold her wedding ring. Authorities began to suspect that Smith had fled on her own volition.

Further investigation revealed that she had lost her school teaching position due to failing a drug test. There were reports of erratic behavior.

Monday Smith was finally located in New York State working in a fast food restaurant under an alias. Police have confirmed that it is Beth Smith and at a press conference announced that they did not know why she had run away from her life and family in Alabama because she would not disclose the reasons. She was not arrested nor is she in violation of any law.

Over the next few days we’re likely to find out more about what’s going on in Smith’s life and what led to her bizarre choices. Because I’m acquainted with the pressures of ministry, the stress of raising children, being a pastor’s wife and teaching in the school system I can imagine a story of being overwhelmed and feeling trapped.

Though Smith’s version of a runaway story may be a bit different, in another way it seems like a story that I’ve seen played out hundreds of times. I’ve been blessed to see many men and women find direction, peace, power and sanity as they have connected with God. I’ve also seen many come close, do some life with God and then begin to flee.

God is not a “pill” or “tonic” that makes life easier. God is a Person with whom we have a relationship that is a lot like family. A relationship with God, though dynamic and awesome, is also stressful and stretching. Knowing God and doing life with God brings about scenarios that demand we “grow up” and mature in ways that don’t happen outside of God.

That stirring to life change sometimes feels so uncomfortable to some that rather than persevere with God and experience life at a new level, they run from God and create a lot of distance with God. (See Jonah in the Old Testament)

Do you know anyone running from God? Are you running?

Today I’m praying that Beth Smith can find her way home. I’m praying for you to be “at home” with God.

No comments: