Flight response of the believer to God’s reproof

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The danger of fleeing from God’s reproof

flight responseEmotionally wounded people tend to run away from situations and responsibilities. Flight is one of the strongest temptations to those who find themselves in the state of reproof.

Any situation of pain, whether physical, emotional or moral, invariably imposes the dynamic of flight response. The tendency is to seek relief and comfort rather than attempt to solve problems. Although this is a natural mechanism of self-defense, it can become dangerous, principally when we avoid treating an inner hurt, irresponsibly continuing to live on prevarications and palliatives.

As much as these flight responses of escape seem to alleviate a person’s pain temporarily, in the process the focus on the wound only gets worse, merely aggravating the perceived need for greater and greater doses of emotional narcotics. In this way, many become addicted and conditioned to flight.

Apparently it seems a lot easier to duck responsibility, avoiding any type of confrontation that threatens to call attention to the trauma. The wide an easy path is also the path that can be eternally long and heavy laden. By choosing the wide and easy path, we avoid the process of healing which only prolongs the state of demonic infirmity and oppression.

Flight response and spiritual defeat

As we join our fear to our flight response, we establish a dynamic that imprisons us in a state of defeat. Our flight response is the flip-side of God’s solution, the principle of unresolved conflicts. The more we flee the more we distance ourselves from the solution. Our flight response is the distancing of ourselves from the solution of our own spiritual life and situation.

Many people are stuck in a pilgrimage of a series of entering and leaving churches. Each time that a problem afflicts them, instead of acting in humility and maturity, they flee leaving a trail of wounds, destroyed relationships and closed doors. When God begins to lead them back to the point where he can deal with them, their greatest temptation is to give up and flee. Each time this happens, they abort the new opportunity for growth once again.

Because of their vicious cycle of flight, they never persevere in anything habitually avoiding the challenges that could turn their life around to a victorious and enjoyable spiritual experience. Many Christians in this condition readily change their “calling” according to their own convenience, which is nothing more than a subtle form of  our attempt to spiritualize the process of reproof and flight.

For these Christians, it is easier and more convenient to change churches than to face and definitively resolve the area that afflicts them. Obviously in each one of these moves, they carry with them contaminated spiritual baggage which becomes the voice of prophecy of new and greater difficulties. It is impossible to wrongly leave a place or situation without wrongly entering into another. The problem resides not in the places through which they pass, but in them.

Certainly, in order to realign themselves with the benefits of a life of freedom, these believers will eventually need to return to each one of these situations and resolve whatever has not yet been resolved.

Biblical examples of flight response

Moses is a classic example of such an emotional fugitive. In his irrational zeal to protect his people, he opened up a terrible wound in his own life by killing an Egyptian man. He concealed his deed and began to walk in darkness. It didn’t take long and he was attacked once again in the same area, now by a fellow Hebrew citizen. The situation traumatized him so much that it caused him to give up on everything, transforming him into a fugitive.

But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. (Acts 7:27-29)

Before he could free the people of Israel Moses himself had to be freed. When God, after 40 years asked him to return to Egypt, it wasn’t only for Israel’s sake, but also for his own benefit.

The return of Moses to liberate Israel from captivity in Egypt determined his own healing. Even though 40 years had already passed and God had already deeply dealt with him through “Pastor Jethro’s seminary” he needed to go back to his point of hurt in order to cease from being a fugitive.

Cain was another fugitive in the Bible. His story provides a sad scene that demonstrates the attitude of a fugitive. I am referring to God’s people who in no way are open to the possibility of exposing themselves in brokenness, admitting their mistakes and correcting what needs to be fixed.

Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. (Genesis 4:14, 15)

After God rejected both Cain and his offering, Cain’s jealousy became inflamed with respect to his brother because God accepted him together with his sacrifice. After receiving God’s warning concerning the dark motivations that assailed his heart Cain ended up murdering his own brother since he would not tolerate Abel’s success. However when God confronted him concerning his murderous deed he denied the act, and preferred to walk in darkness. No matter how God tried to bring him back into the light, he chose a life of lies!

Cain’s profile reflects a high percentage of people in the church who live in relational darkness, fleeing from the truth. Upon being tested and reproved by God, Cain became a fugitive and played the part of a victim. Instead of fearing the Lord he feared the responsibilities that he should have taken on.

For not knowing the heart of God, thinking that he would be overly strict, he decided to flee. It is in this way that many Christians abandon God’s divine plan for their lives and begin wandering through life like a homeless person! From that point forward, they no longer persevere in anything. They easily fall into self-condemnation: unable to forgive themselves having lost the ability to trust in the forgiving character of God. They become disoriented in life.

In the same way, we can mention the prophet Jonah, the man who was the quickest to flee from responsibility in the Bible. In Jonah 1:1, 2 we read about God call to Jonah to preach a message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. By verse three however, he is already running away:

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3)

Coincidentally, a storm began to ravage the ship on which he fled. From that comfortable place where he slept in the galley of the ship, he was thrown into the ocean and swallowed by a great fish that took him to the heart of the ocean depths.

Only then did he decide to pray! He finally yielded to the task that God had given him, changed his mind and returned to God’s original plan. After three days, the fish vomited him out on the banks of Nineveh where he finally fulfilled his mission.

Just imagine the condition he arrived in at the land of his calling, vomited by a fish, with an intolerable stench of fish guts! The fish was a type of divine submarine in which no sane prophet would want to travel! I hope that you don’t have to go to the place of your calling inside of a fish.

It is never a good idea to flee from the God’s presence. No matter how far we flee from what hurts us or leaves us feeling ashamed, eventually we will have to backtrack and return to the point of origin, where we arrive handcuffed by reproof.

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