Right or Left at Oak Street?
By Jane Thornton
“Mrs. Thornton, we’re so sorry, but we can’t find Matthew.” The voice of my eleven-year-old son’s principal echoed through the earpiece.
The world slowed.
“What do you mean?”
“His teacher let him go to the restroom at eleven this morning.”
My gaze flew to the wall—two o’clock.
“The class went to lunch, and she thought he had returned and gone with them, so she didn’t notice he was missing until the end of the meal. We’ve searched the entire campus and can’t find him.”
I wanted to scream, And you’re just now calling me? But somewhere in the depths of my foggy brain, I knew this was a tough call to make, and screaming wouldn’t find Matthew.
“The police are on their way. You can meet them here at the office.”
Denial stupefied my mind. Stunned fear jumbled my thoughts. Matt had run away before (to the park down the street); surely he was voluntarily missing. A school employee had seen a kid walking down the road during her lunch hour. Thirty-five years of training in manners managed to squelch my desire to screech at her, Why in the world didn’t you stop him?!
Matt had been headed east. Our house was five miles northwest. He had a friend who lived seven miles east. We made frantic phone calls. No one had seen him. The police cruised the roads in both directions—no sign of him. They sent my husband home to wait in case he called or showed up. I stayed at the school office.
Time dragged. The police asked questions; I can’t remember what they were. I made phone calls. I prayed. I grasped at every straw-like possibility that would bring my son safely home.
And God blessed us beyond belief.
At five, Wes received a call. Matt had made it four miles to the freeway where he walked down the middle of the construction area and got in the car with a construction worker. Thankfully the man took Matt to Whataburger where they called us.
Matt had gotten fed up with school and decided to come home. Roads look different on foot and alone than when riding with Mom. Every time he came to a familiar street name, he chose the wrong way to turn. He never realized he was lost.
I assume since God is omniscient, He doesn’t have the fear of the unknown that we have as parents. But He is our Father, and I have to believe that he does suffer the agony of the known. He sees us making those wrong turns and knows the consequences we will have to suffer. He knows how lost we get even if we don’t.
He also knows our final destination. But then again, so do we, and still I agonize over the path my children may take to get there. Does God suffer when we don’t listen to His guidance? “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV).
Comment Prompt: What incidents have reminded you that God feels our emotions with us?