My daughter was on my left, my son on my right, as I began to read.
“Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away...”
How was I to know that I was reading my future to my children that day?
The story continued. “So he said to his mother, ‘I am running away.’
‘If you run away,’ said his mother, ‘I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.’”
I didn’t even bother to tell my Father that I was running away. I just did. Packed up my things, wrote no note, left the door hanging wide open. Never looked back. How was I to know that my Father said, “I will run after you”?
My daughter and son listen as I read on.
“‘If you run after me,” said the little bunny, ‘I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.’
‘If you become a fish in a trout stream,’ said his mother, ‘I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.’”
If God ran after me, He wouldn’t like what he found. He’d have to go slumming, poking around in the gutter, digging through the dunghill to find his runaway boy. And God wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t go that far. I didn’t mean that much to him.
I turned page after page.
The little bunny became a rock high on a mountain, so the mother became a mountain climber.
The bunny became a crocus in a hidden garden, so the mother became a gardener.
The bunny became a bird, so the mother became a tree that her little bird could come home to.
I was beginning to think I’d never outrun God. To my surprise, and disappointment, I couldn’t seem to get away from him. I became an adulterer, a drunkard, a blasphemer, and a violent man. But every place I went, soon I’d look over my shoulder and see Him bearing down on me, in hot pursuit.
Finally the little boy says that he will become a boy and run into a house.
And the mother responds, “If you become a little boy and run into a house, I will become your mother and catch you in my arms and hug you.”
To which he responds, “Shucks, I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”
But it was too late for me. I had already left. This was no cute conversation between me and my Father in heaven. No what-if scenario. I had turned from being a little boy into being a serpent. Crawling on my belly in the dust. Slithering from sin to sin. Poison on my lips. A bite that could wound and kill. I was coiled in anger. I looked through two slit eyes that saw the world from the perspective of prey and predator.
And I knew that pursue me though He might, God would never stoop so low as to become a serpent. No, not even to find and bring home his lost little boy. God wouldn’t go that far.
And then one day I heard these words, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life,” (John 3:14-15). And my mind drifted back to the story of Moses, how God told that old man to make a bronze serpent and fasten it to a pole, so that all the Israelites who were bitten by the fiery serpents might look to that bronze serpent and be healed.
And I wept, a serpent of a man shedding tears in the dust that I had made my home. I looked up at the cross and saw what God had become to bring me home. He had become what I was. He who knew no sin became sin that in Him I might become the righteousness of God. Jesus became an adulterer, a drunkard, a blasphemer, and a violent man—He became all of me on the cross, all of what was wrong with me, all of what was wrong with our fallen race. He became a serpent, and was lifted up, that He might draw all men to Himself.
We meant that much to Him. He would go that far. He would go into the gutter to find us and bring us home, transformed back into His children.
Now, every night, my heavenly Father tucks me into bed, kisses me on the forehead, and says, “You’re home again. My son, my child, you’re home again.”