The dog and I often take random runs around town. The only logic to our run is, “how can we make a three-mile run and avoid as many hills as possible?” We literally run everywhere. The other day, we were preparing to take off for a late evening run and my daughter delighted me by telling me she was coming along. That never happens. So then, of course, my son had to come too. Before long, the whole household – excepting the guinea pig – set out to complete a three-mile trek. My kids, of course, had their various wheels along so it would seem slightly easier. I was overjoyed.
We were halfway through our run when I noticed this black car had driven past us for the second time. I try to watch the vehicles around us as much as possible, especially when my kids are with me. I intentionally point out the ones we’ve seen before, just to encourage them to be aware of their surroundings at all times. I didn’t say anything about having seen this car before because they were already beginning to fuss over how late it was and I didn’t want to alarm them. I didn’t mention it the third time I saw it drive past either.
When I saw it the fourth time, as we started the stretch of road before heading home, I started to get a little nervous. This time, it wasn’t driving past us. It was sitting in a vacant lot next to an abandoned gas station with its lights on in our direction. We passed it and I looked it over really good, but didn’t notice a darn thing about it because my thoughts were running rampant in my head. When we got a little ways past, I stopped running and turned to my kids.
“Guys, I don’t want you to freak out but I’ve noticed the same black car four times now and I just want you to know that if we notice it again, we are going to run to the police station, not directly home.” My daughter said, “Yeah, I noticed it too. There’s a white man in the driver’s seat with a hat on and I even memorized the first three letters of his license plate.” She rattled them off and I was suddenly grateful we had an identifier so our imaginations could not run away with us if we saw a random black car on the way home. We knew specifically what we were watching out for.
We were nearing the top of the last hill on the way to our home when the car drove past us and stopped at the stop sign ahead. The first three letters of the license plate confirmed our fears: it was the same car. I turned to the kids and was about to tell them we would head toward the police station when a cop car pulled up behind him. The black car put his blinker on and signaled that he was turning into a parking lot to the right of the road, and the cop car put his signal on and turned left toward the police station. The black car turned off its blinker, creeped up the road a little and stopped on the side of the road very near where we needed to run to get home.
Instead of defying my fear, which is my usual approach to scary things in life, I followed wisdom … and the cop car, to the police station. The officer was walking up the sidewalk when we caught up to him and explained what had happened. The officer, despite my dog’s unfriendly attitude toward him, graciously offered to make sure we got home safely. He followed us ever so slowly as we made our way the last few blocks to our house. Then he offered to check into it for us.
My kids were completely freaked out when we got home. Not to say I wasn’t, but since the Lord has been my only companion most of the last thirteen years of my life, I live with a constant awareness of his nearness that is relatively unshakeable. I trust him, and I don’t think that’s foolish. I prayed a silent prayer for wisdom and began to calm their fears as best as I knew how: by recounting the events of the evening with a vastly different perspective than the one they were entertaining. You see, their thoughts were on the creeper and what could have happened. I pointed out how God intervened, and the things that actually happened.
Yes, there was a creeper following us and who knows … our imaginations can conjure up a plethora of things that could have happened and scare us to death. But I noticed the car early, which is a miracle in and of itself. When I am running, I am mostly concerned with the death I am dying in that moment … running is deadly. It kills me every time I do it. I am hardly ever concerned or aware with what’s going on around me. I trust Jesus and my crazy dog to keep me safe. But this time, I noticed something.
My daughter also noticed it, and had the wisdom to begin noticing other details that were pertinent in relating this incident to the police officer.
Then there was the cop who drove up right behind the creeper, ensuring we had almost immediate access to an officer who could, and did, provide a safe escort home. We did not have to run past the creeper’s car again, and therefore, he was not able to track us back to our sanctuary. We made it home safe.
Here’s the deal: Satan’s a creeper too. He’s “roaming around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He creeps on people all day, every day, and most often, we spend way too much time thinking about what he is capable of and how he might interfere in our lives or lead us into harm’s way. But what about what God is doing? Didn’t He promise in His word to take all things that Satan purposes for evil and turn it around for our good (Romans 8:28)? David tells us over and over in the Psalms that God is our shield. Our fortress. How often does He shelter us from the enemy’s attacks and snares? Shouldn’t we be focusing on what God is doing to thwart the devil’s plans, instead of magnifying the war Satan wages in our lives? If we magnified Christ and his victory instead, wouldn’t that restore our hope, our peace, and our joy? Look what the Lord has done!! Even still, aren’t we safe when the battle rages on around us? Sheltered safe within the arms of God? Church, we need to recognize! We need to stop talking about and thinking about what Satan is doing. “But God ….!” As I told me kids at the end of that night, “If God be for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)!