A lot of things can drive us away from God. Most are subtle, as we replace God in our lives with money, success, lifestyle, relationships, or usually a combination of many things. And sometimes, an event pushes us away from God, as we purposely, in full realization, run away from our maker.
In episode seven of Charlotte, Yuu makes a run for it, hiding away from the world, from his life, from truth, from pain, but most purposely, from Nao.
I don’t think any of us probably watched this episode thinking that what Yuu was doing was fantastic or absurd. We realize how difficult the time is for him, and how hard it is to bounce back from a tragedy like he endured. Those with anxiety or other difficulties and illnesses probably understand Yuu’s condition even more deeply – once you’ve been pushed over the edge, it feels like an impossible task to do what people are telling Yuu to do – to move on with life.
And so, Yuu runs. He runs away from Nao and the student council, so that they won’t bring him back to the heavy weight of reality. And he runs to a place where he can simply satisfy his basic animal desires, to indulge in things that will keep him from the reality of life. In this way, Yuu reminds me of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); though some tragedy didn’t push the prodigal to rebel, he did squander the money given him and breathed in “wild living.”
In the end, the prodigal returned to the father – not necessarily out of humility, but just for a place to go. Yuu is still running at the end of the episode, but knowing that he’s never likely to return, his “god” has to meet him more quickly than God met the prodigal.
I’ve already mentioned how Nao has demonstrated some qualities of Christ – namely how she endures suffering to save others. And in this episode, she does the same – she takes herself away from school, travels far, and stays by Yuu’s side. Like the invisible God, she remains by him even though he doesn’t realize it, day after day, letting him make his choices until he comes to the point where he’ll head down a path to which there is little chance for redemption.
And then, with serving, humility, and compassion, Nao gives Yuu exactly what he needs. Through a promise (given in her own unique style), she gives him love in a reminder of how much he meant to Ayumi (and visa-versa). She breaks down his walls, and in doing so, brings him back to the flock.
If you’ve drawn away from Christ, whether in sin or because of pain that wasn’t your fault, know, too, that Someone invisible remains by your side, caring for you even as you pull away from Him. You only need to trust, to do the opposite of what you feel – instead of pushing away from him, draw nearer to God. And when you do so, He’ll draw near to you.
It’s a promise.