Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

A Portrait of God's Relentless Pursuit

Last week, I talked about God’s relentless pursuit of His children. Even before I pushed the Publish button on that post, God began to work on my heart about sharing another relentless pursuit, a human example of Christ’s relentless pursuit of those He loves.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her Ephesians 5:25

Fall of 2009. My life was in shambles. I had just asked my husband to leave and had begun the divorce process. I had made the mistake of getting involved with a man—the one I was looking to for my security—when I had my heart broken again. In spite of the pain, I knew God had called to me, begging me to get my security from Him…and I had fallen to my knees in surrender.

And that’s where we left off last week.

Remember how I said with every moment of surrender comes a huge break-through?

It had only been a week or so since I fell to my knees and told God I would take this journey even though I didn’t want it. It was fresh on my mind. I was trying to turn to my Heavenly Father for my security. Someone had randomly given me this verse:

As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Daniel 9:23

But I was hurting. I was lonely. I was scared. I heard God say my prayer was answered, but I certainly didn’t see it.

During this time, the only social life I had was this relatively new (at least to me) social media site called Facebook. I began to search for old friends in hopes of reconnecting with my past. One of those old buddies from high school was Roy Martin.

One day as I began to try to put together my family on Facebook, I accidentally sent Roy a family request (I’m not sure you have to send requests any longer). The next day as the kids and I were living our lives, I sent Roy a private message.

“Did I send you a family request?” was my innocent question.

“Yes,” he began. “I wondered what that was about.”

I had no idea where Roy was, what was going on in his life. I hadn’t seen him since we graduated high school. We sent a few messages back and forth that day. I told him what was going on in my life, about my husband’s affair, about my pain. I also began to talk about my Heavenly Father and the work He was doing in my life.

“You have no idea how much you are ministering to me,” Roy messaged me.

I didn’t. But I had a feeling something was going on with my old high school friend. Sure enough, a few days later I received another message from Roy.

“My wife told me she wants a divorce,” Roy said.

I could hear the pain in his words. I could sense the heartbreak as we shared a common pain. And I knew God was giving me an opportunity to minister—even in the midst of my own personal hell.

As the days progressed, so did our divorces. Roy was in Hawaii, and I was in Oklahoma. We texted frequently, and Roy’s flirting became difficult to dismiss.

“You are the only one who is allowed to talk to me that way,” I said on more than one occasion after a somewhat suggestive text. He was never obscene and certainly never dirty or rude, but he loved to joke around—and he pushed the limits. I knew my friend was drowning his heartache in rum and Coke, and I knew he, too, was looking for security in all the wrong places.

The years passed. Roy moved back to Oklahoma. He found himself in multiple relationships—all gone wrong. He continued to walk his way instead of surrendering to the God of his youth. But, every time he needed a friend, needed a word of advice or encouragement, he turned to his old friend Dena.

“Good morning Gorgeous.”

I could count on that text several mornings every single week for seven years.

“Good morning Gorgeous.”

My kids would see the text and immediately let me know Roy was texting.

“Good morning Gorgeous.”

Never faltering. Never failing. No matter how many times I pushed him aside and relegated him to friendship status, the pursuit continued.

“Good morning Gorgeous.”

My parents talked about how long he had chased me and I SWORE he could just keep chasing because he would never catch me.

But he was my friend. When I was lonely and needed a break from this single parent life, I went running to Roy. Let’s catch a movie. Let’s grab lunch. Anything to break the monotony. He was always there, always the one. Steadfast. Relentless.

And then came April 6, 2016.

“Good morning Gorgeous.”

The familiar words showed up on my phone that morning as I got ready for work. I thought nothing of it. After all, it was a nearly daily occurrence. I had watched over six plus years as he put aside the rum and Coke, put aside the women, and surrendered to the Father. He was not the same man who had begun pursuing me years earlier. He had taken time to heal, to change his ways, to return to the faith of his childhood.

That morning, I responded to his text…but slowly. I didn’t want him to think there was more to this relationship. I didn’t want to give him false hope.

Around 11:00 am that day, I received a call that changed our lives forever. My ex-husband—the father of my children—had just been found dead. My texts to Roy stopped as I tried to gather my thoughts and rush to my kids. My family began to post vague prayer requests on Facebook on my behalf. Roy, although left out of the conversation, knew something big was going on. Yet, he waited.

Later in the day after gathering my children, I sent him a quick text.

“I’m sorry for disappearing,” I began. “My kids’ dad is dead.”

How do you even respond to a text like that? I honestly don’t remember his response, but I know he became my rock over the coming weeks. He helped me navigate the system of the U.S. Army as I sought information for my kids. He was my shoulder to cry on. He was the kind man who brought dinner to my family. He was my friend who walked with me—walked with my kids—through some of the most painful days of our lives.

“Good morning Gorgeous.”

The texts continued, became a daily thing. As his tender heart and kindnesses were showered over us, my heart began to soften. I began to look forward to those daily texts.

“Good morning Gorgeous.”

The daily refrain put a smile on my face in the midst of the confusion and fear and heartache as I tried to navigate the waters of grief with my kids. His non-stop efforts to do for my kids what I couldn’t do, what their family didn’t do, won my heart—and my kids’ hearts.

“Mom, we really like Roy,” they began in unison. “He’s so nice. We want you to marry him.”

And, for the first time ever when they talked about Roy, I didn’t say, “NEVER.”

I guess you could say the rest is history. About six weeks after my ex-husband’s death—at the time when I was more convinced than ever that I needed to forget about dating and help my kids through their grief—God saw fit to bring this amazing man into my life.

After nearly six years of relentless pursuit, I surrendered. I surrendered to a plan I never imagined but God planned from the beginning. I surrendered to this man who had lovingly pursued me, patiently waiting for God to work on my heart. I surrendered to a future with a man who had chosen to surrender to the Father so He would have a chance at winning my heart.

And I certainly don’t regret it.

I still get those, “Good morning Gorgeous,” texts most days, but I also get a “Good morning Gorgeous” kiss every morning and every evening. His kind heart continues to show in the little things he does for us each and every day. And I still harass him about how hard he had to fight to win my affections.

But just like my Savior, he was willing to relentlessly pursue me until I surrendered. What a portrait of our Heavenly Father’s love for us.

Here’s the thing: I am worth fighting for. I am worth the pursuit. And Roy was willing to pursue me relentlessly until I finally surrendered. Granted, he had heard God tell him to keep pursuing me because I was the one, something I didn’t know until after we started dating. But he never gave up, no matter how many times I pushed him aside…just like our Heavenly Father never gives up on us.

And here’s what I want you to know: If you are reeling from the pain of divorce or tired of languishing in the loneliness of the single life, know that you are worth being pursued. You are worth fighting for. If there is a man (or woman for my male readers) who is worth taking your hand, he will be willing to fight for your heart for a long period—even six years. He will be willing to pursue you relentlessly—just like our Heavenly Father does. He will be willing to surrender to the Father—just so he can have a chance at winning your heart.

Don’t give up. Don’t lose heart. You are worth the fight.  

Image Credit: ©Unsplash/cristian-lozan