June 14, 2013

For When You’ve Run Away from God

“What’s the saddest song you’ve ever heard?” she asked. Her young eyes read mine as if searching for the lines of lyrics.

“Well, I suppose ‘Beloved Wife‘ by Natalie Merchant. It’s about an elderly man trying to navigate life without his beautiful bride of 50 years. Like Grampy Arnold.” She nods knowingly, because who could forget his silhouette against the bedroom window that day?

Stooped over in that straight-back chair, he held his ragged tissue in one hand and his beloved wife’s pale hand in the other. That holey tissue dabbed the end of his nose for the umptenth time in as many hours. Though offered a new one, he wouldn’t let go of this one. Or my Nanny. No, he fought in WW2; this solider surely could fight the time that was quickly taking his wife away.

The truth is though, no man is a match against time. But we can all go up against ourselves. And so he played the tug-of-war game that day: to let his wife go -or- to hold on to her.

From the other side of the bed my aunt gave the gentle tug that swayed the outcome of his internal war. Her whisper rose and fell in harmony with my grandmother’s raspy breaths. “It’s time, Dad. You have to give her permission and let her go.”


{Nanny Sylvia and Grampy Arnold}

Long after Nanny released her last breath. Long after his children and grandchildren shuffled out of the room. Long after the gurney was wheeled in. He gripped her hand and the fragmented pieces of damp Kleenex. As the day drew to a close, the silhouette of this grief-bearing man grew darker in the cavity of that bedroom window.

And I knew then, that truly, the saddest song ever heard is that of a lover-less heart.

Not just the dirges that rise from dear widowers’ hearts. No. The melodies lamented by those who are far from Christ are the most wrought with grief.

I know. I sang that song for years while I wandered away from Him and broke my covenant. Runaway brides have their own unique tunes. And though many aren’t even aware what is driving the lonesome song, they each sound the same.

Our hearts are created to love One: the Christ. And while those who have never fallen in love with Him sing a different type of song, we who have committed our lives to Him and yet don’t cling to those vows have a dirge of sort. Oftentimes depression, stress, sleeplessness (or over-sleeping), anger, irritation and apathy are common. Why? Because our hearts begin to wither without the presence and peace of our true love.


{Picture source: unfound}

I don’t know where you are or what song you’re singing, but I do know this. No matter how close to spiritual death you may feel, He remains. Long after others shuffle out. Long after the day is done. His silhouette fills the window, holding on. Singing His own song over you. “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” {Zeph. 3:17}

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” {James 4:8}

Sam Vows







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  1. Melissa says:

    The song is “He Ran to Me.” Honestly, I’ve felt distant from God at times lately- confused, upset sometimes, and not sure where I stand with Him. I’m afraid to make a vow, and then not keep it, but maybe that’s what I am doing with the LORD. He is my first love. Thank you for reminding me.

  2. Michelle says:

    My songs are “My Redeemer Lives” and “Because He lives.” As I walk through valley after long valley, I need to be reminded that I do not live in the valley of the shadow of death, but rather, am passing through, from death to life. My Lord does not leave me in the muck and mire, but draws me out into abundant and true life. There are no words to describe my gratitude and so, I strive to live a life of praise and worship, humbled at the daily gift of new life that Jesus offers to even me.

  3. Janetta Dobler says:

    My favorite song is “Amazing Grace.” Lord God, I love You. I submit myself, body, mind, and spirit to you. I choose to accept the plan and the purpose You have setfor me. I admit my inability to do this in my own strength. I say, Yes, Lord to You this day. I say yes, Lord to your forgiveness when I mess up. I say yes, Lord to persevering when I want to give up. I say Yes, Lord to your invitation to be obedient even when my ways look more appealing. I say yes, Lord when you show correction and conviction comes upon me instead of condemnation. I say yes, Lord even when my lips desire to utter a thousand times over, ‘I can’t.’ I say yes, Lord to loving You more with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my strength. I say, here am I, Lord whenyou are looking for someone to stand in the gap and interceed for others. I say, yes Lord, I will lay down my life for you, allowing Your Word and Your spirit me to crucify my flesh and transform me into Your likeness. I say, yes, Lord, that my life will no longer be self- centered, but will be Christ- centered. I say, yes, Lord, that I will receive Your agape love and I will share it with others. I am Yours, Lord. Completely, totally, eagerly Yours. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

    • Thank you, Janetta: I really appreciate what you have shared. 🙂 I hope you don’t mind if I copy it so I can look it again, maybe print it. God bless you richly!

  4. Susie daggett says:

    Did You Mean Me ? By Todd Agnew

  5. Thank you for the devotion. I needed the reminder of getting close to Jesus & staying close.
    I have had many sad days lately but HE is with me. Draw near to Jesus and He will draw near to (insert your own name). The song “Blessings” by Laura Story is great. Also His Eye is on the Sparrow. When I know that I am getting to “down” in my thoughts or whatever then it’s time to sing simple praise songs or thanks for my salvation type songs -such as “Thank you Lord for Saving my Soul” & the classic children’s song “This is the Day” will brighten things up a little:) I have to mention one of my favorite choruses based on 1Peter5:7 “I Cast all my Cares Upon You.” Much more I could say but I better sign off for now:) Blessings!

  6. Thanks for being faithful, and sharing your heart! Right now my favorite song is “Tell the Mountain” by the Collingsworth family.

  7. Kristie Porter says:

    Manifesto by The City Phiharmonic.
    The word Amen represents truth – so be it.
    I am a whiz at complicateing situations and circumstances. I know when it feels like I cannot possibly take on another task or I feel overwhelmed beyond my capacity, I have to remember to keep it simple by remembering Amen – simple. God wants me to rely completely on Him – so be it.

  8. The song ‘worn’ by 10th Ave North is where I am at right now, sometimes breathing is so hard. The fight to keep going and knowing Jesus can heal and bring redemption to any circumstance is what keeps me going. I know He has the answer, but sometimes getting to the point of hearing and feeling it is such a struggle.

  9. The beautiful example shared of a run away bride has given me another amazing perspective of my relationship with Jesus. I have so many favorite songs but a few I sing/hum/listen to are: Held by Natalie Grant, the hymn (can’t remember the title at the moment) but says This is my story this is my song praising my saviour all the day long, Lead Me by Sanctus Real and How Great Is Our God. Jesus I am pashioned to formulate and submitt my life vow to you. For today I give you all that I have been, all that stands before you and all that through you I will become. You Jesus are my home. In our house when we obtain something sweet or valuable we have wanted, we call it a “good get”. Jesus you are my “good get”. You are sep to me. Sep is a term my 4 sisters and I used to describe our playhouse we constructed under the carport on rainy days (yes my mother demanded we play outside). We couldn’t say the word except so we said sep sep out there is is thundering and rainy, sep in here we are warm, dry and safe. Throughout life if a situation was warm and cosy (being at home with a warm fire when it is storming out) we would say it was sep. Jesus I am sep in you because with you I am home. Jesus I rest in your promise of loving me and never leaving me. Jesus I want desperately to know more women like those who posted to this story.
    Laura K. Braswell

  10. Lindsay says:

    Right now my favorite song is “Hello My Name Is” by Matthew West. Although none of us are perfect, we serve a perfect God and through him, we are no longer held by the bonds of sin. How great is that?

    Hello my name is: child of the ONE TRUE KING!

  11. Stephanie says:

    Plumb’s “Need You Now” has spoken to me since I first heard it. It speaks of the brokenness we all have or will go through in our lives but reminds us to actively seek the God that created us. That we can cry out in our brokenness and He will be there.

    This song coupled with Amy Grant’s “Lullaby” reminds us that God wants us to be true and real in our relationship with Him.

  12. Rebekah Marsh says:

    My favorite song is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s just something about that Name. When I get to that point that I feel I can’t go on, I start singing this and a peace and calm wash over my soul that I can’t explain. I live daily with pain from Multiple Sclerosis and its complications but I know Jesus is enough in every circumstance of my life. He has brought me through the pain of my two oldest children being taken to Heaven on Christmas morning in 1997 and I have all confidence He will bring me through whatever this life brings. I continue steadfastly to praise His Holy Name – Jesus.

  13. There is one song that reminds me of broken vows to God and how He responds. It is:

    “Almighty God, the great I am
    Immovable rock, omnipotent, powerful, awesome Lord
    Victorious warrior, commanding King of Kingd
    Mighty conqueror, and the only time
    The only time I ever saw Him run

    Was when He ran to me, He took me in His arms
    Held my head to His chest, said my son’s come home again.”
    Lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes
    With forgiveness in His voice He said,
    “Son do you know I still love you?”
    He caught me by surprise when God ran

    The day I left home I knew I’d broken His heart
    And I wondered if things could ever be the same
    Then one night I remembered His love for me
    And down the dusty road ahead I could see
    It was the only time– It was the only time I ever saw Him run

    “When God Ran”

    Love this song and I can always envision God’s arms and love for me and for others when I hear this song. God’s love is amazing and thought the lesson of the prodigal son is a hard lesson to learn, God’s unconditional love is truly proven.

  14. lyrical thinking says:

    One must be careful with vows. Especially sung vows from someone else’s song.

    Hmmm favorite songs, Too many.

    O Come O Come Emmanuel is pretty.

    Matthew West and Lecrae are good artists of expressly Christian music.

    On a tangental note, B.O.B.’s Lovlier Than You, and

    Also, the song Coming Home (especially the Last Train to Paris version) are nice too.

    Oh and in the same mucial line, Ron Pope generally has nice lyrics.

  15. My favorite song is Master of the Wind.

    My boat of life sails on a troubled sea
    Whenever there’s a wind in my sail.
    But I have a friend who watches over me
    When the breeze turns into a gale.
    I know the Master of the wind.
    I know the Maker of the rain.
    He can calm a storm, make the sun shine again.
    I know the Master of the wind.
    2. Sometimes I soar like an eagle through the sky
    Above the peaks my soul can be found.
    An unexpected storm may drive me from the heights
    Brings me low, but never brings me down.

    Your message today was a prayer answered from God. He spoke to me in your message to remind me that all I am going through at this time and where I have turned and have been trying to run from him I must stop and turn back around and repeat your vows back to him. And just as my song says realize he can calm the storm and make the sun shine again. Times we forget that he is the master of the wind and he has to bring those storms to turn us around. Thanks for blessing me today.

  16. Thank you for your devotion today. It helps me to remember my commitment to God and to my spouse. I have so many songs that touch my heart with God’s love one of is Circle of Two by Steve & Annie Chapman. No matter how far we get away from God. He always has open arms for us and we can start again and get back on track with Him and our spouse. If we come to Him.

  17. My favorite songs are “Amazing Grace” and “I Can Only Imagine”

  18. Christina says:

    What speaks my “vows” with God, like “Bring the Rain” by Mercy Me…

    ……….”I am Yours regardless of
    The dark clouds that may loom above
    Because You are much greater than my pain
    You who made a way for me
    By suffering Your destiny
    So tell me what’s a little rain
    So I pray

    Holy, holy, holy
    Is the Lord God Almighty”

  19. Gertrude says:

    Thank you for a beautiful devotion. More often than I would like to admit; my reply to his answer has been “Yes, but….”. That phrase may not sound like a runaway bride, but I know I have my running shoes on.
    I have two songs that touch me, and bring me back. They are George Beverly Shea singing ‘In The Garden’, and Steven Curtis Chapmin’s ‘Sometimes He Comes In The Clouds’.

  20. Samantha…your vows inspired me to refresh my commitment to my Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! To let Him know how much I love Him, adore Him, appreciate Him and how much I need Him! My heart is filled with joy! Dear Father, I vow to honor You God by believing Your Word and Your promises, by faithful service and obedience, by trusting in You, the Only One who hears my prayers and knows my heart, by trusting and hoping in Jesus, Your Son, my Savior and Redeemer, by opening my heart to Your Holy Spirit, and by sharing Your blessings of grace, love, and mercy! Amen!

    There are many favorite songs including “Amazing Grace” and “Be Not Afraid!” But I guess that the two songs that reinvigorate my soul in the morning are …”Me Without You” Toby Mac and the “Good Morning song” Mandisa featuring Toby Mac.

  21. Patty S says:

    Tim Timmons “Cast My Cares”….When I am weak, You’re strong, You meet me here when I’m on my knees, on my knees, it starts with me. Why do I work outside of You, Knocking down doors I shouldn’t go through I’m so tired, I’m so tired
    You take the burdens off of my shoulders, You break the lies that hold me back So I’ll know that You’re enough ………….The first time I heard this song, I started to cry. The past 15 years has been so hard on me, and right now I am struggling to stay together…To get on your knees and pray, it’s the best feeling in the world, and I feel closer to Him when I do.

  22. Noemi Luna says:

    “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North, as it asks us not to give up and seek strength and endurance from God. We take for granted what God has already provided but we need to know He is there for the emotional and psychological challenges of everyday.

  23. Kerry Ann says:

    My favorite songs are “I Am Redeemed” and “God is Speaking”.

  24. Courtney says:

    My favorite song is “Hello Fear” by Kirk Franklin. Here are the lyrics:

    Hello Fear
    Before you sit down there’s something I need to explain
    Since you’re here
    I think I should tell you since we last talked things have changed
    See I’m tired of being broken-hearted
    So I made a list and you’re on it
    All my hopes and my dreams You took from me
    I want those back before you leave

    Hello Fear
    I knew I would see you, You have a hard time letting go
    See these tears,Take a good look because soon they wont fall anymore
    God’s healing my hurful places
    That seat that was yours now is taken
    I’m no longer afraid,See I’m better this way
    And one more thing before you leave

    Never again will I love you
    My heart it refuses to be your home
    No longer your prisoner
    Today I remember
    Apart from you is where I belong

    And never again will I trust you
    I’m tired of fighting it’s been way too long
    No longer your prisoner
    Today I remember
    Who I was and now it’s gone
    They’re gone

    Hello Grace
    It feels like forever, I thought my chance with you was gone
    See your face, it reminds me of mercy
    And please let me say I was wrong
    Never knew your touch was endless
    How you never run dry of forgiveness
    Didn’t know how bad it was, was afraid just because
    Sorry fear, grace took your place

    Hello Fear
    Before you sit down there’s something I need to explain…

  25. Building 429 We Won’t be Shanken,
    Mandisa : Stronger
    Amazing Grace.

    Awe shucks I have to many to list just one or two 🙂

  26. Anna Wylie says:

    Britt Nicole, Gold

    I love this song! My kids laugh at me because I tell them it makes me want to skip and I start skipping. Now when the song comes on my kids start skipping as well. Even my 7 year old son which makes my heart melt when he grabs my hand and says… come on mom, lets skip!

    Oh, oh, oh, oh
    Oh, oh, oh, oh

    You were walking on the moon
    Now you’re feeling low
    What they said wasn’t true
    You’re beautiful

    Sticks and stones break your bones
    I know what you’re feeling
    Words like those won’t steal your glow
    You’re one in a million

    This, this is for all the girls
    And boys all over the world
    Whatever you’ve been told
    You’re worth more than gold

    So hold your head up high
    It’s your time to shine
    From the inside out it shows

    You’re worth more than gold
    (Gold, gold, you’re gold)
    You’re worth more than gold
    (Gold, gold you’re gold)

    Well, everybody keeps score
    Afraid you’re gonna lose
    Just ignore they don’t know
    The real you

    All the rain in the sky
    Can’t put out your fire
    Of all the stars out tonight
    You shine brighter

    This, this is for all the girls
    And boys all over the world
    Whatever you’ve been told
    You’re worth more than gold

    So hold your head up high
    It’s your time to shine
    From the inside out it shows

    You’re worth more than gold
    (Gold, gold, you’re gold)
    You’re worth more than gold
    (Gold, gold you’re gold)

    So don’t let anybody tell you
    That you’re not loved
    And don’t let anybody tell you
    That you’re not enough

    Yeah, there are days that we all
    Feel like we are messed up
    But the truth is that
    We’re all diamonds in the rough

    So don’t be ashamed
    To wear your crown
    You’re a king, you’re a queen
    Inside and out

    You glow like the moon,
    You shine like the stars
    This is for you
    Wherever you are

    Oh, oh, yeah, yeah
    Oh, oh, you’re gold

    This, this is for all the girls
    And boys all over the world
    Whatever you’ve been told
    You’re worth more than gold

    (So hold your head up high)
    So hold your head up high
    It’s your time to shine
    From the inside out it shows

    You’re worth more than gold
    (Gold gold, you’re gold)
    You’re worth more than gold
    (Gold gold you’re gold)

    So don’t be ashamed
    To wear your crown
    You’re a king, you’re a queen
    Inside and out

    My Vow for my family is: For me and my house, we will serve the LORD!

  27. Samantha, your devotional touched a place deep within me because just as you said…”I wandered away from Him and broke my covenant.” The song by Natalie Merchant is so powerful and speaks volumes. But I hadn’t really thought about it from the aspect that I am a “bride” who has run away and therein lies my stress, sleeplessness (or over-sleeping), anger, irritation.” A couple of songs that speak so powerfully to me are “I Am Redeemed” and “Going Through the Motions.” (Although I think I will have to add “When God Ran” to that list after listening to it and really meditating on the words.)
    Jesus, I don’t want to:
    – live without your passion
    – end up with regret that I did not give my all
    – be haunted by my past
    – struggle without Your hope to get me through
    Instead I vow to:
    – stop running away from You
    – worship You and sing Your praises eternally
    – remember the price you paid and never take it for granted
    – daily show the world the reason for my hope, joy, and peace.
    My heart is never more at home than when it is with you, Lord! (2 Cor. 5:6-10)

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