You Can Run, But . . .
BY PASTOR TONY REA | JULY 6, 2020
I Can (series)
Joe L. Barrow was born in Lafayette, Alabama, in 1914 and moved to Detroit at the age of twelve. Several years later Barrow quit his assembly-line job and became a professional boxer. He was nicknamed the Brown Bomber; and from 1937 until 1949, Barrow reigned as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. You may not know or have ever heard of Barrow, but you probably recognize the name Joe Louis—Joe Louis Barrow. Even today Joe Louis is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time.
Joe Louis defended his title 13 straight times, and in 1941 retained his status as heavyweight champion when he knocked challenger Billy Conn out with just seconds remaining in the thirteenth round. Five years later Joe Louis agreed to a rematch with Conn. Remembering how close Louis had come to losing his championship to Conn during the first fight, sports writers asked Louis how he would contend with the quick and cunning Conn who was famous for his dazzling footwork. The champ is said to have made the legendary comment, "He can run, but he can't hide." Joe Louis was right. The fight ended in the eighth round when the Brown Bomber knocked Billy Conn out for the second time in two fights.
One summer day when I was on afternoons, it was late into the shift, pretty close to quitting time, when my partner and I stumbled onto a felony vehicle whose driver was wanted for questioning in a homicide. The vehicle, a black Cadillac, was traveling north on Oakland Avenue near the north end of the precinct. I put the license plate into the computer and the monitor lit up like a Christmas tree. The vehicle was occupied by four men—two in the front seat and two in the back. As soon as we attempted to pull the vehicle over, the driver hit the accelerator, and we were off to the races. We chased the car for a few blocks at modest speeds; and at one point, one of the back-seat passengers pointed a gun out of the window but did not fire it at us.
We anticipated a foot chase, so we requested a K-9 unit (police dog) to assist us. Sure enough, all four passengers bailed out of the vehicle. It was dark outside, between 10:30 and 11PM, and since we knew the subjects were armed with a gun, we had to proceed with extreme caution. As a result, all four passengers got away. When the K-9 arrived, the dog handler had his partner sniff the driver’s side of the abandoned vehicle. The dog picked up a scent and immediately was hot on the trail. About 10 to 15 minutes later, the dog led us to the side door of a residential garage and began barking like crazy. We found our man hiding up in the rafters of the garage. We arrested him without incident. Come to find out, the man we had taken into custody was wanted for several outstanding felony warrants including murder.
Now I’m not someone who is able to read a dog’s mind. I certainly would not consider myself a dog whisperer, but that night as the K-9 was tracking the fleeing felon’s scent, I have to believe the dog was thinking, “Buddy, you can run, but you can’t hide.” And the dog was right. Trust me when I say, trained police dogs are amazing! I’ve watched the dogs work a police crime scene on many occasions, and more often than not, they get their man.
“You can run, but you can’t hide,” basically means you can temporarily escape or avoid what you fear most or what you’re running from, but eventually it’s going to catch up with you.
A Bible character who learned that lesson the hard way is a guy by the name of Jonah. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah said to himself, “I don’t think so.” Instead Jonah made his way to Joppa (opposite direction) and jumped on a boat to Tarsus. That’s when things began to go sideways for Jonah—he was eventually thrown overboard and then swallowed by a big fish. Three days later the fish spit Jonah out on the beach; and given a second chance, Jonah completed his God-given assignment.
In the story of Jonah, there’s a great lesson to be learned about God’s mercy and compassion; when you get the chance, I highly recommend you take some time to read it. However, here’s our wisdom for today—when it comes to obeying and surrendering your life to God, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” You can’t hide because God sees you, and He cares about you. He cares enough to seek you out; and there in your place of hiding, God will engage you and reveal His unfailing love.
Psalm 139: 7-12
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, You are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, You are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there Your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You.
‘“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered…
But I trust in Your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in Your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for He has been good to me.