I was following some advice from John Eldredge the other day. He suggested taking the time to ask God for his theme for my life this year (read his advice here: http://ransomedheart.com/?q=node/1873). The word I got was pursue. This is a multi-dimensional word for me. The constant battle in my life is passivity versus intentionality. This battle reaches into nearly every area of my life from my relationship with my wife to how I pastor my church to taking care of own heart. Of course it’s a long story about how this came to be: passive father, relational wounds, entrenched coping strategies and so on. God is still working on all of those things, but I do know that for me at this point in time, the fruit of the Spirit is action (Richard Rohr helped me discover this in his book, “Discovering the Enneagram”).
This brings me to the word “pursue”. The first dimension is “pursuing” or seeking God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Psalm 63:1 says, “You, God are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Seeking God is a posture of the heart. It’s saying that He alone is our life, he is our true Father and Jesus is our true King. It’s a confession of his goodness and our weakness. We are dependent on God for life, for hope and for wholeness.
But I can only pursue God because he has pursued me. In Luke 19:10 Jesus says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” This reflects what we see in Isaiah 65:1; “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.'” In an even more startling passage in Hosea 1:14, after rebuking Israel for going after false lovers, God says, “Therefore I am now going to allue her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” I am and we are pursued by a fierce, divine lover. He responds to our apathy, ignorance and rebellion by pursuing us with tender, passionate love. This is personified in Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but so save the world through him (John 3:16-17).”
Because I am pursued by God, my best choice is to pursue him too. Like the prodigal son I want to be swept up into the arms of my loving Father. Like Peter, I want to be willing to get out of the boat and walk on water just to be where Jesus is. Like Mary, I want to put aside busyness and hustle just to sit at the feet of my Lord and King – but I want to do that intentionally!
But the word ‘pursue’ doesn’t fulfill it’s meaning there for me. Because I am pursued by the God of Love and pursue him in return, I also pursue others on his behalf. As his ambassador, servant, messenger and intimate ally I pursue the hearts of others in the name of Jesus. This begins with my wife and my children. We all want our hearts known and pursued by the ones who love us. Women and children seem to feel this acutely. I’ve been good at going after the hearts of my children, but my confession is that going after my wife’s heart has sometimes felt like too much hard work. A women’s heart is a rich and mysterious place and to discover its secrets takes time and intentionality. God is inviting me afresh to pursue Kiley’s heart; to make time and be intentional in order to know and love her more deeply than ever before.
God is a pro-active lover. He seeks us out, woos us, calls us, comes for us and dies for us. How do we love him in return? Do we seek him, cry out for him, hunger and thirst for him, be willing to die for him? How do we love others in response to God’s pursuit of us? Do we go for the hearts of the ones we love or are we passively waiting for others to make the first move? I encourage you to meditate on God’s pursuit of your heart and then allow your heart to respond naturally and spontaneously. Let his love fill you and his Spirit guide you as you seek to live wholeheartedly in the name of Jesus.