The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Restlessness
Running Away from Your Problems
Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home.
This verse speaks to the desire we all feel from time to time to run away from our problems. The translators use various phrases to express this truth. The man in question “wanders far from home,” he “strays from where he belongs,” and he is “moved from his place.”
The point of the comparison is not hard to find. All birds leave the nest eventually. But a bird that “strays” from the nest is abandoning its responsibilities and may end up never finding the way back home again. Even so, a man who “strays from where he belongs,” especially from his home, loses touch with the most important realities of life. God gave us families so that we would have roots. In the words of Robert Frost, “Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” But where will a man go if he strays from the “nest” God has given him?
This certainly applies to men and woman who leave their mates and children in search of happiness. But it also applies to the general temptation to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Thus we hop from job to job, looking for the one place where we (and our careers) will blossom. We migrate from church to church, stopping only long enough to see the blemishes in each congregation but not long enough to make lasting friendships. In the same vein, we move from house to house and town to town, flying like a stray bird farther and farther from our roots. Sometimes we ditch our lifetime friends in favor of new ones.
One important point must be emphasized. Leaving is not wrong, nor is changing jobs, starting over, moving to a new community, or finding a new church. Sometimes we must break a friendship for our own spiritual well-being. But motive is all important. Leaving and changing and making a new start can sometimes be nothing more than a convenient excuse for running from our problems.
Often we stray because we expected to be happy, and when we aren’t, we pack up and leave. But marriage is tough at times, even the best friends get on your nerves, no job is perfect, no church is always harmonious, and life in general can be boring and unpredictable.
So what? If you cop out and drop out, do you really think things will get better? If you are running from your problems, running away won’t make things better. One mark of maturity is that you can face your problems head-on, without flinching, without making excuses, without complaining, and without running away.
God has a purpose in allowing us to struggle with the temptation to run away. He is developing character in us, and to do that, adversity is essential. That’s why life isn’t easy, why nothing works the way it’s supposed to, why we struggle so hard to get ahead. God’s agenda and His timetable are often quite different from ours.
Do not despair. The road is hard and the journey long because God made it that way. But there’s a crown and a throne at the end for those who persevere.
Lord, help me to stay in my nest until You tell me it’s time to leave. Amen.
When are you most tempted to run away from your problems? From your perspective, what is the difference between responsible leaving and running away?
What situation, person, or problem are you most tempted to run away from right now?
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