I used to be a runner. Not a runner like my friend, Jennifer, who just completed her 5th Boston Marathon. No, I ran from situations that were difficult, unpleasant or painful. Or, at least, I imagined I could runaway from them.

When I was a little girl, I pretended to runaway. My mom would put my lunch in a brown paper bag and away I would go for a daylong adventure. We lived in a small town, in a safe community and I was always home before dark.

When I was a teenager, I kept a change of clothes in a small cream-colored suitcase just inside my closet door. If I was unhappy about the way things were going at home, my bag was packed and ready for my well-thought-out getaway. However, I never had the courage to actually make a run for it. Instead, I ran and hid in my small, walk-in closet. There, I sat on my overnight bag and cried until that day's storm passed.

Then, I grew up, got married and became a mom. To my surprise, there were still times when I wanted to pack my bags and runaway. In fact, on days when life was hard, I pictured my suitcase beside the front door, packed and ready to go.

During one particularly painful season, the thought of my luggage waiting beside the front door, occupied my mind more than usual. Until, one day, when my fantasy of escaping was abruptly interrupted by God's still small voice, Cathy, I don't want you to do that anymore.

I KNEW the Lord was speaking to me! "Lord," I prayed, "I'm so sorry. But, I just want to runaway when life is hard. Help me, please!"

God answered my prayer, and suddenly I understood. Although, entertaining the image of my bags packed and waiting at the door seemed innocent enough, I was in dangerous territory. It was like playing Russian Roulette. I never intended to carry out my fantasy. But, I realized if I ever did, I would cause more pain and suffering than anything I was trying to runaway from.

Finally, at the ripe-old-age of thirty-something, I decided to stop running! Even though leaving was only in my imagination, I chose to quit playing my "suitcase" game. And, instead of dreaming of a way to escape, I turned my attention to seek God's plan to stay in the tough times. And, with His help, to learn to be a victorious overcomer through them.

In the days that followed, I worked hard to change my thinking. And, I held on to God's promise in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. I especially clung to verse 5 (KJV), Casting down imaginations (my suitcases, packed and sitting by the door), and every thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, (my thoughts that running away would solve my problems) and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Today, I am no longer a runner! The only time I see my suitcases waiting by the front door is when I am about to travel for business or pleasure. I have cast down my imagination to runaway. And, I have learned to keep my mind on God and His word when life is hard. Because more than anything, I desire to obey and please Jesus with my every thought.

Do you ever dream about an escape route when life is difficult, unpleasant or painful? Has God ever asked you to cast down an imagination? Or, perhaps to take a thought captive in obedience to Him? Remember, our weapons (of Christ-like thinking) have divine power to destroy strongholds. I would love to hear how God has changed or wants to change your thinking.