The idea of being pursued can conger up all kinds of images and emotions. The emotions range from fearful of an obsessed psychopath (think Fatal Attraction – The Boy Next Store) to being prized, wanted, chosen – valuable.
Why do you and I desire being prized, wanted, and chosen – to matter – whether in a romantic way, in a friendship, by a parent, or in our work environment? We feel worthy when we are pursued.
I suspect it has something to do with our beginnings. In the beginning, our creation meant we mattered. We were worthy – simply because God said so. He created us as his image bearers.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:27-28 NLT)
One of the ways we image God is through community. It is in community with God and each other that we experience full human flourishing. In the beginning we were wanted, chosen, prized. By the Triune God and by each other. And we were also given worthy work – significance. Under God we were to run the world he created. N.T. Wright says it like this, “God made humans so that he could look after his world through this particular creature. Creation was supposed to be brought into flourishing harmony, to a fruitful fulfillment, through the work of humans.”
But then there’s the fall. Things go haywire. And we’ve been searching for worth and value and importance and significance in all the wrong places ever since. But God’s love for us didn’t stop at the fall. He set out on a historical pursuit.
So often we say things like, “Then I found Jesus,” but the truth is, God’s been searching for us since the fall.
When Adam and Eve hid from His presence (Genesis 3:9), the Lord called: “Where are you?” He knew where they were. So what’s he doing? He’s pursuing them. Calling them back to him.
The mystery in history is NOT that we are on a search for God, but rather that God is on a search for us – He’s pursuing us. Where are you?
He freed his people from bondage.
Exodus 3: 7-8: God heard his people’s cry.
Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land.
He gave them purposeful work.
Exodus 19: 3-6: God reinstated work for his people.
… you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.”
He asked to be among them.
Exodus 25:8: “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.”
Tabernacle = He is among us
Then his people turned from him. Scripture describes it as Adultery. Unfaithfulness. Prostitution. We see it over and over again in the Scriptures. It breaks God’s heart (just read Ezekiel 16: 2-22).
By now I would have given up the chase, but not God.
God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son SO THAT everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
In Matthew 1:23, we learn that God moved closer to us through his Son Jesus Christ. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,” which means “God with us.”
Tabernacle = God among my people.
Jesus = God with my people.
Then Jesus died for us.
After 3 years Jesus departed. (Acts 1:9-11)
Did he abandon us? Was he done pursuing?
NO! He sent his Spirit to live in us. (John 14-16)
Tabernacle = Among Us
Jesus = With Us
Spirit = In Us
PURSUER – He can’t get any closer than that!
And he tells the Church, you and me, that we have purposeful work. Work that matters.
… For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Last week was a discouraging week. I was blue about where my kids are at in life. I felt like a failure. It was one of those times when I wondered if what I had given my life to mattered – at all! I was beginning to feel like “what was the point to my staying home to mother them?” It seems to have been for nothing. And I am not a “natural born” mother. I mean I’m not very nurturing. And I don’t like making or keeping a house. And I didn’t like to cook (or clean for that matter). But I did all those things, and I did them really well – I may not be nurturing, but I am disciplined. But now I was wondering, “for what?” What was all that for? None of it seemed to stick. I stomped my feet and ranted out loud, “I should have gone to work and made money! At least then we wouldn’t have been so financially strapped.”
Ever been there, wondering if what you gave your life to mattered? That’s where I was. A few days in I sat with the Lord, and I heard his gentle question: “Did you do it for them or me?” Parenting. Did I do all of that for them – or did I do it for him? Well of course I did it for my kids, but more so I did it for Him. I knew that. Ultimately my parenting was about being faithful to him and the results were not mine to decide.
I heard his gentle response, “Jackie, it mattered to me.” There was my pursuer. In my brokenness I had wondered if it mattered, and in his mercy he reminded me – it did. To him it did.
You know I don’t think it’s wrong to want your husband, friend or parent to value you. To communicate to you that you matter. I think it’s normal to want to be valued for our work, to know that what we give our life to matters. In fact these may be signposts to something greater. People can never be our indicator of whether or not we are worthy. Our creation as image bearers and rulers declare our value. God’s relentless pursuit of you and me screams to our souls, “You are worthy because I, Creator of the Universe, say so. And I’ll go to all lengths for you to know it.” Pursuer.
I matter. My mothering mattered. Even if my kids never tell or show me. I know it mattered. I know it still matters.
The Bible tells me so.