Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm of hatred. [Psalm 55:6-8 (NLT)]
The skink is a reptile that looks as if it can’t decide whether it’s a lizard or a snake. As one scampered away down the boardwalk, it looked more lizard-like than usual because it was missing the pointed end of his long tail. Like many lizards, if a predator manages to catch a skink by the tail, the tail will break off. Since the detached tail continues to wiggle, the predator gets distracted which allows the lizard to escape. Even though a raccoon, snake, or hawk had appropriated its tail, that skink escaped to see another day. Although skinks don’t have much with which to defend themselves, with their detachable tails (caudal autonomy), God provided them with an effective mode of escaping trouble!
Like the skink, we all want to be able to escape when disaster occurs. The Department of Transportation designates evacuation routes in case of a hurricane and public buildings mark exits and stairwells so we can flee in case of fire, but we wish to escape from more than storms and burning buildings. We want to flee from things like chronic pain, stage-4 cancer, paralysis, Parkinson’s, or MS. We wonder where the emergency exit is when caregiving for a spouse disabled by stroke, an elderly parent with dementia, or a child with cerebral palsy. Where do we go to flee from a loved one’s addiction, the loneliness of widowhood, overwhelming debt, a troubled marriage, or the consequences of our failings? There are, however, no detachable tails or specially marked exits for those situations.
Adam and Eve ran from God after eating the forbidden fruit, the pregnant Hagar ran away from Sarai’s harsh treatment of her, Jonah ran the opposite way when God told him to go to Nineveh, and Elijah tried to escape Jezebel’s wrath by fleeing to Beersheba. Running and hiding, however, didn’t keep God from finding them and setting them back on the path He set for them. Unlike the skink, they couldn’t turn tail (or leave their tails behind) and run away; neither can we. Although some people try to flee their difficulties through abandonment, denial, addiction, or emotional detachment, their troubles eventually catch up with them. Instead of escaping like a skink, we have to turn around and face our troubles head on as did Adam, Eve, Hagar, Jonah, and Elijah.
While God doesn’t promise to fix our problems, He does promise we’ll not face them alone. Unlike the skink whose only defense is a detachable tail, God has provided us with His armor, the power of prayer, the Holy Spirit, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Heavenly Father, when we want to flee, please give us the strength and courage to meet our challenges face to face. We know we can’t do it alone but, with you, all things are possible.
Don’t pray to escape trouble. Don’t pray to be comfortable in your emotions. Pray to do the will of God in every situation. Nothing else is worth praying for. [Samuel M. Shoemaker]