'Let me put it this way. In my Kingdom, if you go running off…I’ll drop everything; that’s right everything, in order to come and find YOU.' Matthew 18:12 (RSV)
One of the cool things I was able to be a part of this past season with the Eagles was just a simple team retreat before the season began. We went out to a supporter of the club’s ridiculous property in South Carolina to hang out, and do some other team activities. One of the more unique opportunities while we were there was to carry this absolutely massive cross a considerable distance as a team. I know this doesn’t sound difficult, but trust me…it was.
Now, I was fortunate enough to not be a part of last year’s team. Well at least as far as the morning team activity consisted of. The team got up early and met outside of their sleeping arrangements and played a game entitled “PURSUIT.” In short, the team would take off one by one with equal spacing in between each guy. The goal was to run the covered distance (it was either a mile or two, I don’t recall. Either way, it sucked) and you were to pursue and chase down a teammate, trying to pass as many teammates as you could by the end, with repercussions for being passed, etc.
Additionally, I have been living here in Charlotte for a little while and have had the incredible privilege of making some amazing friends. The majority of them are believers whose life example, friendship, and accountability are absolutely amazing. It is a unique group in that people here are in all sorts of different walks and places in life and yet it has no real bearing on the community. We have married couples, soccer players, medical workers, singles, office traders and all other kinds of classifications you could put onto someone.
What has been really interesting to me though is the inner workings of single people here. Because of the teams in the summer and the general community being in their mid twenties there are a fair amount of single people who have similar passions and interests. And while it is done very well and tastefully, I have found one aspect of it has particularly tuned my ear to it.
There is a code word here in Charlotte. One that everyone knows and will tune anyone else in to know exactly what is going on. The word: pursue. It is amazing! It is the default word everyone around here uses when describing a relationship that might be starting, how one started, or the misuse or judgment of one gone awry.
It is usually used in conjunction with males and their intention with women. You might hear someone say, “Yeah, he was very intentional about his pursuit of her.” Or you might hear a woman say, “I just really want to be pursued by a (certain) guy.”
In general, you get the idea. It seems that there is much ado about nothing until the P word is thrown out. Until a guy is declaring his intentions as pursuit, there is at best cloudiness.
I do find it a bit funny. It is literally like a magic word.
And while I laugh, understand I do think it is a good thing. The Scriptures speak very clearly of guarding your heart, as it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Song of Solomon cautions not to arouse love until it so desires; or until it is ready (2:7, among others). So in this sense, I totally buy in. There shouldn’t be a whole lot of middle ground; there are intentions or there aren’t. This isn’t something to be messed around with.
Yet, this pursuit, of a woman by a man only seems to mirror that which is so available; that which we all long for amidst our own daily pursuits.
I have found myself pursuing a woman, a job, a title, a position, a friendship, a grade, and a number of other things. And as I think about what that has meant it seems to me anyway, an almost agonizing rejection of self for whatever it is I am pursuing. Haven’t you been there? We lose sleep, don’t eat, train without stopping, study til we fall off our chairs in order to obtain that which we are pursuing.
But for myself anyway, in the midst of my own pursuit I end up running from that which is pursuing me; or should I said He that pursues me.
There is a song by the band Third Day called “Just to be with You”. It is one of my favorites. The lyricist speaks in a tone as if God himself were singing to us. He uses some clichés that are usually said of a man pursuing a woman. He talks of a man that would climb a mountain just to be with the one he loved. Or another man, who would cross the sea, just to be with the one he loved. He goes on, “how many times has he broken that promise? It has never been done.”
He’s right! I know men who have been head over heels for a woman and yet none of them literally climbed a mountain. None crossed a deep sea.
Now as we know Christ didn’t do that, he pursued us in such a manner that led him to the cross. That his pursuit knew and understood how messed up we were; how much it would take for us to be reconciled to him. And yet he did it.
But not only did he do it, he also continues to do it.
This is my biggest struggle.
We serve a God who pursues us. And he does it in such a way that is greater than anything we have ever pursued in our life. And all we have to do is give up; give in.
As one who is always pursuing I will be honest and say that is difficult for me; very difficult. Yet as I continue to run, continue to pursue whatever it is I am after, I truly believe that if I slow down and quiet myself just enough I will be able to hear rustling behind me; accompanied by a faint voice calling my name; desperately wanting me to come back to the pen; to join the other 99.
It is in this location that our pursuits can ease. In the midst of our Shepherd, grades, jobs, titles, spouses, none of it matters compared to being in the midst of the Shepherd who left everything to come after and pursue us.