Circus

Running Away For More Than A Day Is Overrated

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, agreed with me that some story characters are too good to forget. The world may have moved on from Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Toby Tyler but they captured the dreams of many of us as children. I was saddened to tell Ed that after 146 years the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus will close forever in May.

Many children have threatened to run away from home, and in the past, to run away and join a traveling circus was the ultimate way to do it. Ten-year-old, Toby Tyler ran away from his foster home and joined a traveling circus. Instead of solving his problems, his new employer was a cruel taskmaster. It didn’t matter, though, for the inside look at the people and animals of the circus kept readers’ interest. How many children would ever have Toby’s special friend, Mr. Stubbs the chimpanzee? The boys, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, fled down the river by a raft, which fed imaginations about another runaway. 

Running away from home isn’t just a child’s imagined adventure. Adults also want to get away from home, from work, from responsibilities and from folks that drive them nuts. Most know that any get-away is best limited to a day or two. Few want to be homeless, jobless, or without any responsibilities or family, friends, or coworkers. Running away may cause more trouble than it solves.

There is a recurring reframe in the book of Judges in the Bible which says, “In those days, Israel had no King; everyone did as he saw fit.” Running away suggests one can do what they see fit. Everyone doing what they saw fit did not lead Israel to great happiness, but threats and attacks from outside Israel and disputes and strife between the people themselves.

God’s people were continually trying to run away from obeying God’s laws. God was to be their king and leader. His will among them was shown in the Ten Commandments. Jesus summed up God’s laws for the people as, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus knew that the people ran away from loving God and their neighbor so he taught: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Jesus made it clear that he had not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them. As both true man and God, Jesus kept the laws of God perfectly for us. He accomplished for us what we could not do by ourselves. There is no difference between us for all have sinned and fall short of loving God completely and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus would not run away from the cross where he would offer his body as a sinless sacrifice of atonement for our sins. Jesus satisfied God’s justice. He gave his perfect obedience to the law to God for us and took upon himself the punishment for our sins. His adventure was a runaway from heaven to earth to do what God his Father saw fit for our salvation.

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Raymond Maher
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