Running from God
Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. Luke 5:8
Whenever I fail in some personal struggle, it always makes it more difficult to return to God. It’s painful to face him after a fall, and so, I continue down my path, going even further in the wrong direction. As I was contemplating my last relapse, I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I told myself I’d return to God the next day. When the next day dawned though, I couldn’t bear the thought of looking at him. I carried too much shame to face God, so I turned away, worsening my condition. When I needed him most, I ran from him the hardest. The fierce light of his presence was just too much for my darkness to bear, so I avoided it.
In today’s passage, Simon Peter expressed a similar sentiment. In the story, Jesus met Peter while he was working on his boat. Jesus asked Peter to take him out on the water and told Peter to let down his fishing nets. Tired and frustrated, Peter explained that they’d fished all night but caught nothing. He begrudgingly complied though, knowing he was wasting his time. When the nets came up so full of fish that it threatened to swamp his boat, Peter recognized that he stood in the presence of God. This was not a comforting realization. Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!
Peter doubted Jesus and when he realized his mistake, he was ashamed. His failure caused him pain, which was exacerbated by Jesus’ presence. His natural inclination then, wasn’t to change his ways, but rather to simply want Jesus gone.
We often do this. When we fail, we desperately need God. In our pain and shame though, we run from him, attempting to protect our pride and ego. The true fix to our condition is to abandon our destructive behavior, but that’s really hard. So, we place the blame for our misery in the wrong place – on God – and we flee from him. In doing so, we multiply our problems, traveling further down our destructive path.
If we want to be free of our self-inflicted misery, we must humbly return to God, dragging our darkness into the light. Eventually, our eyes adjust as our shame and guilt dissolve in the grace and forgiveness of the father.