My daughter has run away.
I’m striding through the halls at church looking for a four-and-a-half-year-old blond-haired girl.
The church service began without any other ruckus than this tiny tot announcing she had to go to the bathroom. So her older sister walked her down the hall and back, but when they swung the sanctuary door open, the little one got bopped on the head.
Yup, she’s my daughter.
She didn’t stop the service with a burst of tears, a wail or a scream (thankfully). But she turned right around and fled.
Now I have about 5 minutes to find this child, calm her down and carry her back into the sanctuary before I need to start playing the piano.
And I can’t find her.
I’m yelling out her name, opening up doors and scanning rooms for any sign of her, checking bathroom stalls, flicking lights on and off in the different classes.
Our church seems incredibly large and complicated right now, like I’m running through a corn maze of possibilities and hitting nothing but dead-ends.
It’s not nearly as scary as the times (many times) that my middle daughter has slipped away in a store or crowd or amusement park or zoo….That girl has a way of disappearing that will make this momma’s heart sink right down into my stomach.
But I know my four-year-old is here in the church. Somewhere.
After a couple of crazed minutes, I finally discover her hiding away, huddled up, knees to her chest under a desk in the choir room crying silently so no one would hear her and find her.
I snuggle her up and make it back to the sanctuary with minutes to spare.
And I’m thankful. I watched her run away so I knew to go searching for her.
Had she slipped away without me seeing, how long would she have stayed tucked away and crying under that desk before someone would have sent out a search party?
I read this passage in Ezekiel and I think of my runaway daughter and for the first time this mysterious prophet begins to make sense to me.
Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:18 NIV).
Maybe we think God’s patience is limitless. But here it is, the very moment when He finally declared that Israel’s unrepentant adultery with any god she happened to meet had gone on long enough.
So, God left the sanctuary.
He lifted His glory right up out of the temple where He’d taken up residence generations before.
He loved them so and longed to be with them, right there in the middle of His people, a constant presence in their very midst. That was His desire, the desire of a groom to be with His bride.
But finally He left.
Ezekiel saw it happen. The glory lifted right up out of the temple and kept on moving:
The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it(Ezekiel 11:23).
What must that have felt like? A heart-stopping void? A knot in their stomach, like the breath had been strangled right out of them?
God’s presence was there.
Then it wasn’t.
Surely they screamed out in desperation, begging for His return. Surely they slammed down to their knees in repentance.
Surely they searched for Him like I’d searched for my daughter–relentless, determined, focused.
Please, please, don’t leave us, Lord! We are nothing without You. We are desperate for You.
Someone should have noticed. Someone should have cried out.
I flip the pages of Ezekiel forward and back searching for that horrible moment when they realized God had removed His glory. I can’t find it. I read a little slower now. Surely I just missed it.
But it’s not there.
It’s not there because they didn’t even seem to pay Him any mind. Those priests, those people, they just kept right on going about their business like nothing had happened at all.
It’s like Samson after Delilah’s final bit of trickery when he snapped out of a deep sleep and didn’t realize she’d given him a buzz cut.
But he did not know that the Lord had left him (Judges 16:20 NIV).
How could he not know?
I want to know.
Lord, don’t let me go anywhere without You, not one step out of Your presence, not one move away from Your side.
May I be sensitive to Your glory and may I run hard back to You if there’s distance between us.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”—that’s me sometimes.
But draw me back, Lord.
“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11 NIV).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King