Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The God Who Pursues (1 John 4:7-19)

God pursues us. The pages of scripture make the point over and over that He does so many times in order that even those slow on the uptake (like me) can attest to the fact. What I sometimes have difficulty understanding is not so much THAT God pursues us, but that God would pursue ME. It seems as though God has his choice of the best and the brightest, and yet he chooses again and again to pursue a reprobate (me, yet again), one who at his best is wavering in his commitment to love and serve Him fully. The great writer/thinker/theologian C.S. Lewis made this point when he wrote the following as he recounted his experience with the “Hound of Heaven”:

“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?”

While I will in no way pretend to be on par in any aspect of my life with C.S. Lewis (I think I’m taller than he was; there may be some other minor differences, too…), the story above is my story. Substitute “Trinity” with “Baylor”, “1929” with “1991”, and “Magdelen” (which I assume is a college dormitory at the school he attended) with “some non-descript, shabby Waco apartment complex”, and you have the story of my conversion. And while I might not be able to reconcile why God decided to draw me to Himself, I am overwhelmed with humility and gratitude that He did.

It becomes, then, my great honor and privilege to return to Him the whole of myself in the outright pursuit of the One who decided to rescue me from death and grant me the life I now have the opportunity to live. And like the Prodigal (Lk 15), the Father has granted me much more than I deserved. I, too, have been given a robe (the Incarnation), a ring for my finger (He saved me “while (I) was still a sinner”), the fattened calf (the Holy Spirit), and He has prepared a feast to celebrate (intimate friendships with believers). He never asked me to pursue him empty-handed.

I don’t think I will ever fully understand WHY God did what He did, and I guess I don’t need to understand. And that’s probably a good thing. Because now I can spend more time trying to figure out why He gave me a wife who is so much smarter than I am…

Timm Sasser

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