Do you remember your first day of kindergarten? Were you excited? A little nervous, maybe? Did you flee from your classroom and cause a school-wide manhunt? Oh, wait. Maybe that was just me.
It wasn’t that I hated school. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.
It all started innocently enough. My mom was so proud taking her baby to school for his first big day. I remember her walking me into class and talking to my teacher. I also remember a cardboard playhouse in the back of the room, and the teacher encouraging me to go play with the other kids.
The playhouse must have been made out of an appliance box because it was big enough for us to stand up inside. The teacher had cut out a window and hung fabric for curtains. To my 5-year-old eyes, it looked like Disney World.
Also, like Disney World, it was so crowded I could hardly get in. Kids were pushing and squeezing their way past each other like insects in a hive. This was not my jam. As an introverted only child, I had a personal bubble of about 6 feet, and everyone was inside it. I was into social distancing way before it was cool.
As an introverted only child, I had a personal bubble of about 6 feet, and everyone was inside it. I was into social distancing way before it was cool.
After a few minutes, I’d had enough. If this was all kindergarten had to offer, it was clearly not for me. When I’d finally managed to free myself from the swarm of giggling children, I looked for my mom and my teacher but didn’t see them. I had no idea where they were.
However, I did know where we were parked, and I knew that our blue Ford Pinto was my ticket home. So, I exited the classroom, walked right out the front door of the school, hopped in the passenger seat of our car and put an end to my brief but memorable school career. It was OK while it lasted, but I had better things to do.
I just wished my mom would hurry up. Didn’t she realize I had toys waiting at home?
I don’t know how long I sat there, but eventually my mom came sprinting out of the school. For some reason she looked frantic and out of breath. Apparently when a 5-year-old just walks out of kindergarten, it’s kind of a big deal.
I later found out that my teacher saw me leave, but she couldn’t do anything about it because she had a whole class full of kids to look after. She couldn’t leave the group to go after just one kid. So, she told my mom I’d left.
At that moment, my mom didn’t care much about the other kids. For her, there was only one kid who mattered. Her kid. The one who’d just run away.
It makes me think of a story Jesus once told about a shepherd who had 100 sheep. When one of them wandered off, he ditched the other 99 and went off in search of the one. It’s not that the 99 didn’t matter, but this lost sheep was in danger. The shepherd loved this sheep and would stop at nothing until he found him and carried him safely back home.
That’s the heart of God for you and me: love, pursuit and rescue. I never ran away from school again, but I spent plenty of my life running from God. But he came after me. He never gave up on me, and eventually, he led me home.
Some days I still run. I still make choices that lead me away from God’s best. Yet God is persistent, always loving, always searching, always calling me to come back home again and again and again, and he does the same for you.
You may feel far from God today, but he’s never far from you. You may have given up on God, but he has never given up on you. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve run or what you’ve done, you cannot outrun God’s love.
I’m sure I learned a lot of valuable lessons in kindergarten, but the one I will never forget is that even when I run, the one who loves me will never be far behind. •
Photo by Melinda Negy / shutterstock.com