One of my all-time favorite children’s books is titled, “The Runaway Bunny”. It’s the story of a small bunny who is looking to stake his independence in life and tells his mother he is going to run away. His mother, seemingly unmoved and unthreatened by her son’s declaration, simply tells him, “If you run away, I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
I’ve been reading this book to my children for the past thirteen years now. It was just recently that I gained a whole new perspective on the story. And it is within this new understanding that I find the most simple, perhaps, most pure, definition of the relationship between God and each of His children.
As the story evolves, the little bunny submits several ideas on how he will escape the reach of his mother. It isn’t made clear why he even wants to do this, but the reader is led to believe he is a free spirit and one who loves an adventure. No matter what kind of escape this small bunny plans to make, the mother bunny calmly and quickly retorts his ideas with a solution of her own. He’s going to become a fish and swim away; she will become a fisherman and fish for him. He’s going to become a rock on a mountain; she will refine her mountaineering skills and make the climb to bring him home. She is afraid of nothing and makes it clear that she will do everything possible to love her child and see to it that he is protected. In essence, she will meet him wherever he’s at.
I love to think of God as that mother. He does the same for each one of us, as we are all that little bunny in one way or another. Personally, my desire for control has me hopping away from God constantly. I continue to think it is best if I’m in charge, and I continue to learn differently. I am so grateful that He never tires of chasing after me. Life, the ups and downs, successes and failures, has us all running, or escaping, in different directions. It’s our human nature. We were all given the gift of free will and there always seems to be ample opportunity to misuse or abuse it. This fast-paced, self-focused world of ours increasingly teaches us to run away from anything that makes us uncomfortable, to change course, leap to the other side of the fence where the grass must be greener. On the contrary, God asks us to be still in the challenging times, in that which brings us out of our comfort zone, at least long enough for Him to meet us there and figure out a plan together.
While some may view God as unbending and austere, the truth of the matter is that He is nothing less than understanding in all things human and should be seen as quite flexible in nature. I can personally attest to this in reviewing all the places He has met me. In the midst of a dreary mood, He will meet me in the laughter of my boys, my daughter’s smile or the dry humor of my husband that never fails to deliver the ever-therapeutic belly laugh. In my doubt, He will meet me in the assuring words of a friend or place someone in my path that can relate to whatever it may be that is causing my anxiety or fear. In my judgement of others, He meets me in the gentle, yet clear, reminders of just how “human” I am myself. When faced with what might seem an insurmountable problem, He meets me in the hug of a loved one, the empathy of one who understands. Big or small, I am never left walking alone. And it is the times I remember to turn to prayer that I realize just how close, and how willing to act, God is.
My favorite page in the story is when the little bunny tells his mother he will become a boat and sail away from her. His mother responds that she will then become the wind and “blow him where she wants him to go”. I liken the wind to the Holy Spirit; always there, peacefully and subtly trying to coax us in the right direction. He is the gentle breeze; the weight that tips the scale in the right direction when we are faced with a decision. When Jesus ascended into Heaven, his physical presence was missed. I imagine to those that knew and loved him when he walked this earth, it felt like they lost him all over again. We all quickly learned however, that he is a man of his word. He promised to never leave us and fulfilled that promise in the gifting of the Holy Spirit. It was a transition that placed the burden on us to increase our faith, to commit to finding Jesus in our daily lives, all around us. It also cemented Jesus’ need for each one of us to be his hands, his feet and his voice. As we celebrate Pentecost this Sunday, we can all rejoice in the knowledge that wherever it is we may hide or however far we may run, we are loved enough for God to come and find us and bring us home where we belong.