Escaping Escapism

Supposedly I was an excellent escape artist at an early age, flinging myself speedily out of the confines of my limiting crib. I am drawn to escape movies like Shawshank Redemption (still gives me a thrill after scores of viewings), and I am fascinated by the escape from Alcatraz. Other than these random strains in my life, I do not consider myself one who struggles with escapism.

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When I think escapism, globe trotters, con artists, tax evaders and runaways come to mind. I am a stay-at-home mother who dabbles in college ministry and barely leaves the house past sundown. Thus, I am about the farthest thing from an escape artist, right?

Wrong. Lately, God has been convicting me of how often I mentally escape from what feel like the confining bars and limitations of my portion, my reality.

Sure, I don’t get in the minivan to run errands and end up escaping to Napa Valley. Neither do I escape monotony by going bar hopping nor flee hardship by heading to the mall down the street.  Yet, I constantly have to fight the urge to escape the pasture that God has placed me and called good.

I escape my reality by daydreaming of vacation or mindlessly scrolling on Facebook. Sometimes I try to fling myself momentarily from the lot apportioned to me by trying to create an alter-reality through writing (I am not doing that this time, I promise).

We all have escape artists living within us, evasive masterminds constantly conniving and sometimes implementing plans to alter our reality. Rather than abiding where we are meant to be, limitations, challenges, hardships and lackluster realities included, we try to run away. Sometimes running away becomes a physical reality, but oftentimes we do so without even moving a muscle.

When we choose to be preoccupied with tomorrow or next week or one day when blank happens, we are escaping the duties and delights God is offereing to us today. When we, though phsyically present with those around us, are consumed with other places or people or realities, we are escaping the portions meted out to us by a loving Father.

I am not saying that daydreaming is always dangerous or that it is wrong to glance at social media or peek into other people’s portions from time to time. There are times and places for recreation and dreaming. However, we must fight the sinful and detrimental tendency to practice these things in a way that pulls us away from and seeks to ignore or numb our present realities.

We are not alone in our struggle with wanting to be freed from painful or limiting realities. In the Psalms we find believers who were honest with God with their desires for a different portion, a broader space. We also find therein a model of submission and seeking satisfaction in God our provider, Christ our Savior and the Spirit our Comforter.

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, and trust in him, and he will act….Be still before the Lord, wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:3-5 & 7.

Even more so, we serve a Savior who begged his Father for a way of escape. Rather than taking matters into his own hands and digging an exit tunnel from the purposed plan of the Father, Jesus honestly brought his fear and concern with the coming Cross to His Father. The two wrestled in communion until Christ landed in a position of humble and trusting submission.

And going a little further, he fell on the ground and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:35-36. 

Sometimes, God sees fit to change our circumstances, sometimes He bids us to remain in our limiting and painful realities. Either way, when we are tempted to the sin of escapism, whatever form that takes in our individual lives, God does promise a way of escape from our escapism.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

We run to the One who did not evade or escape circumstances of suffering to the point of death on a Cross. In Him we find the grace, the strength, the resolve to remain present in our realities.

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