Pursued and Devoured

There have been times when I wake in a cold sweat, heart pounding and eyes wide open, staring into the darkness of my room.  The fear is real. The pursuit is relentless.  The enemy is within inches of pulling me down when I am rescued by wakefulness.   The nightmare continues in my mind as I lay there – awake – but thinking
about how I could have survived the attack.

These are the the images of being pursued!  It is scary, exhausting, filled with danger.  I experience the gazelle being chased by the cheetah…it is a race for life!  Every dodge and turn can spell survival or death…my chest constricts – I hate this feeling!  Can you relate?  Have you felt this sense of looming doom?  The constricting grasp of financial disaster; the oppressive pressure of unrelenting illness; the suffocation of loss and death.  It pursues…it seeks to cripple and destroy!  Can there be anything good about being pursued?

Would it surprise you, then to know that God pursues you?  Would you be afraid to know that He desires to not only pursue and catch you but to devour you?  We are marked by the Creator and sit squarely in His sights and are the object of His pursuit.

I suppose your view of God and His intentions will determine if this image scares you or thrills you.  For me, it is both.  God is both loving and good .  He is both holy and just.  His goodness and love fill me with the hope that He has nothing but my best in His plan.  His justice and holiness send shivers down the spine of my selfish form.  I don’t want to be pursued and captured by the One Who defines good and evil.  I want to be engulfed by the One Who creates and gives life.  I don’t have a choice – He is both!

How else can we explain His demotion to Earth?  He, the Supreme Ruler, in the comfort and grandeur of His perfect Holy Place stoops to become mere man…to pursue us!  How can we grasp the notion of Him walking among us and experiencing our smallness so that we would be able to see God with skin!…He pursues us!  How can we justify our selfish pursuits for importance, success and significance when He willingly surrendered His life and power to the hands of hateful mob…He pursues us!

  • God comes to Adam & Eve…to commune with His creation – He pursues them
  • God comes to Cain; warns of sin at the door – He pursues him
  • God comes to Abraham; shows him a Promise, a Plan – He pursues him
  • God wrestles with Jacob, maims him, calls him Israel – He pursues him.
  • Jesus comes to a lake, calls them to be fishers of men – He pursues them.
  • God meets Saul on the road, blinds him, calls him Paul – He pursues him.
  • God brings road block, pain, discomfort, blessing, joy, trial… – He pursues us.

Pursued, caught, conquered.  It seems this is what we expect and yet, an almighty hand grabs hold and the glint of cutting steel catches our eye.  The knife is not at our throat; it is at our side.  We are helpless before the sheers and our Maker is removing the weight of our own overgrowth.  The very things we hold closest to us, He lovingly cuts away and the unexpected result is a new sense of freedom…relief!

SheepShearHis pursuit is not to end my life but to fulfill it.  His pursuit is not to devour me but to consume me.  His pursuit is not to remove what I want but to give me what I need.  His passionate pursuit of love stuns me; fills me with wondrous fear and finds me in my darkest hour.  Without His pursuit of us, we would all be forever lost!

May you know the pursuing & consuming love of your Creator.

John 10:14-16

Open Mic: Share your thoughts

  1. How has God pursued you?
  2. How have you resisted His pursuit?
-Michael G

Paste it, Daddy!

MUSIC LESSONS

It’s a perennial favorite!  Every Christmas Eve, we gather the family, go to church, come home, open one present and then watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  We always laugh at Uncle Billy tripping over the trash cans and re-quote the line, “This is a very interesting situation!!”   Mr. Potter seems to be more evil each year and a small lump forms in the throat when George re-discovers Zuzu’s petals.  While the main theme is the value of one life lived in sacrifice to others, there are many smaller themes that run throughout the movie.  These sub-themes are potent, profound and enduring.

ZuZu has come home from school with a temperature and is sent to bed to rest and look after her new gift, a  flower.  Her father, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), comes home and goes up to check on young Zuzu.  As she lifts up her flower to show to her daddy, a few of the petals fall off.  With memorable cuteness, Zuzu says, “Paste it, daddy!”  George than pretends to re-attach the petals, only to carefully hide them in his pant pocket.  He then urges her to go to sleep so she can dream of a whole garden of flowers. The flower was “broken” and she asked daddy to fix it.  Her beautiful flower was fading and dying and she could do nothing to repair it except offer it to her father.  Granted, my analogy is about to become flawed, but this image has a pearl of wisdom for us.

We have each been given a gift – a talent, a position, a friend, a Life!  There comes a time for all of us when we look at that gift and realize that we have broken it.  Either through abuse or neglect, we all eventually find ourselves sitting with tear-streaked face, watching petals fall to the floor.  Eager to fix it and make it new again, we search for paste and glue, tape and string to re-fashion the forming disaster that is growing before us…and more petals fall!  In helpless abandon, we hide our gift and pretend it never existed.  “If I ignore my failure, it will go away!”

Adam & Eve are the first to take a perfect gift and squander it on a moment of risk and excitement.  They, too, ‘pasted’ leaves to hide their shame but the petals continued to fall. Eventually, God came and asked why they hid in the shadows.  Only He could truly “paste” everything back together as it should have been…through His Son!

Peter claimed to follow Jesus all the way to His death.  But when the moment of courage came, Peter took his gift of discipleship and pulled 3 petals off and tossed them on the floor – “I don’t know Him!”.  A few days later, Jesus pasted him back together with a question.  “Do you love me?”  He then challenged him to “Feed My sheep.”  Judas Iscariot also made a choice to betray and destroy his gift, but he never came back to the Father for forgiveness and love.  He died at the end of his own rope.

This is what I think happens:
know I have screwed up!  My shame is deep.  My guilt is complete.  But it is too complete and too deep for any hope of recovery.  There is no one strong enough to fix what I have done.  I will forever be this old broken flower with falling petals.  After several attempts to fix myself, I give up and settle for dreams of gardens of flowers instead of the real thing. George Bailey is a good guy; a great dad; but he could not paste the petals – he could only pretend to fix it…sort of like you and me!

I believe that this song helps to capture our fear of surrender; our fear of letting God heal and restore.  The question is simple: Is God Strong Enough to Paste you – for good? Listen and read the words as Stacy Orrico sings…

Until we understand that only God is strong enough to forgive and restore, we will always be looking for reasons to condemn ourselves to a life of second-best and “if-onlys”.  It’s time to come to the True Father and simply say, “Paste it, Daddy!” (I John 1:9)

OPEN MIC:  SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  • How have you tried to fix yourself instead of relying on your Father to paste it?
  • What is a lesson that you have learned from your brokenness and God’s restoration?
  • Share your thoughts below for others to read.  Someone needs to hear your story!

-Michael G

6 Marks of Discipleship – #5 Love

If you missed the Intro post in this series, be sure to read it.  It will provide more context around this series.

Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples.  These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.

  • Mark of Discipleship #1 Hate
  • Mark of Discipleship #2  Suffer
  • Mark of Discipleship #3 Forsake
  • Mark of Discipleship #4 Abide

Anyone who knows me knows that I have am not a cat lover!  I find them to be pretentious, self-absorbed and too good for their own fur.  Do I hate cats?  Well, for sure, I do not love them.  Having said that, would I intentionally harm a cat?  Um…well…OK, would I intentionally do something nice to or for a cat – NO!  Somehow, this has something to do with Love!

MARK OF DISCIPLESHIP #5: LOVE

 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 NASB

In our 21st century American culture, a command to love one another is not only expected but commonplace.  We have profited from over two centuries of preachers & evangelists heralding the virtues of Christianity.  LOVE is always, and rightfully, among the top of the list.  However, the 1st century Christians did not benefit from the same environment.  Theirs was a culture of rules, regulations and legal statute.  Admittedly, this religious Continue reading

6 Marks of Discipleship – #1 Hate

If you missed the first post in this series, be sure to read it.  It will provide more context around this series.

Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples.  These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.  Here is the first:

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”  Luke 14:26

Is Jesus really asking us to hate as a condition for following Him?  This statement comes from the Man who said the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor as our self. Matthew 22: 37-40 Contradiction?  Confusion? or Comparison?

Perhaps you have read this story…its worth reading again:

Pearl-Necklace

 

The Pearl Necklace

The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Continue reading

Bananas & Oranges

Orange-goes-banana-l

Bananas are an amazing fruit!  They come with their own handle and are naturally appealing.  They truly are one of my favorite fruits.  They are tasty when they are bright yellow and make great bread when they are black and disgusting.  But one of their best features is the fact that bananas produce great belches!  (Yes!  I really said ‘Belch’ – No!  My wife didn’t proofread this post…quite possibly a serious strategic error!) Continue reading

God, Family, Country

Memorial Day, 4th of July and 9/11

These – along with many other solemn occasions – drive us back to our core, back to our roots, back to the values that define us.  Here is the simple question: What are you doing to pass your core values on to your children, grandchildren or other younger family members?

 

911RaisingFlag

There is a custom growing  Continue reading

Love For Sale

What comes to your mind?

Images of seedy neighborhoods; sordid dark alleyways; scantily clad women with painted smiles standing on a street corner?  Or maybe it is one of the many songs by the same title.  Whatever the image, I’ll bet it doesn’t include your spouse or children,  your parents or co-workers.  But maybe it should!

Continue reading

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