passion

Today it seems as though everyone is chasing after something.  Twenty years ago the rousing motto meant to motivate Christians and humanists alike was ‘Pursue your passion!’.  Christians added a further motivation, something to the effect that ‘where your greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need’, this then is where God is calling you.

It seems fair to say that people of all stripes and walks of life seek something.  The thousands of possibilities fall into several predictable categories like:

  • safety
  • peace
  • health
  • work
  • meaning
  • relationships
  • security
  • identity
  • control over one’s future
  • freedom
  • acceptance

I’m sure some of those are worthwhile.  Who doesn’t want to reap the benefits of clean water and the cessation of war. But as significant as may be these many directions in which we focus our life’s energy, maybe it’s more important to do a 180 and ask a different question.  Instead of what vision we place in front of us, how about considering who might have US in His sights.  Who might be chasing US!

“….surely your goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23:6

I was looking up the Hebrew word ‘pursue’ in a different passage and when I scanned all the places God uses this verb, I came across the familiar and beloved 23rd Psalm.  My mother used to joke about the 3 angels, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy when she talked about this well known promise.

David’s prayer reminds me of a more contemporary vision of divine pursuit. You’ve heard of the poem, The Hound of Heaven.  The image is of a God who WILL have His way, who never stops persistently tracking us, setting up roadblocks to direct us to the point where we give up and ‘reluctantly’ yield to His will.

CS Lewis admits that when he finally gave in, exhausted, to God’s decision and deliberate ‘hounding’ and handed over his life to this God, he did so with great reluctance.

“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? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”  (taken from his book, Surprised by Joy)

I don’t know how you look at your life, but I for one am glad that God has and continues to pursue me.  If there is a driving force in my life, it seems to be one ceaseless message.  In the Old Testament Hosea sums up this directive best:

Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. Hosea 6:3

and in the New Testament, Jesus exhorts us to follow the sane and life-giving goal:

Matthew 6:33 – Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteous way……

Yes, justice and peace are important and we should pursue them in God’s strength and in His way.

But our significance comes NOT from what we pursue, but from WHO pursues us.