Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
I started my year with a through the Bible reading plan again. I’ve been reading the entire Bible at least once every year for the last five or six years. Today, as I read this passage, I was struck by something I hadn’t seen before.
I’ve been contemplating God’s loving, relentless pursuit of us, His children. I’ve been begging Him to relentlessly pursue some people I love, His precious sheep who seem to be wandering from the safety of the flock. My heart breaks over their pain, over their anger for difficult circumstances in their lives. I know they are trying to make sense of this life, and they are angry with God.
And I want nothing more than for them to know the undying love of the Savior, to feel Him relentlessly pursuing them, leaving the 99 to come after them.
As I read Genesis 3 this morning, I realized this passage is the first documented case of God coming after His people, chasing them down as they hide from Him. It’s the first evidence that we have a God who relentlessly pursues His children.
Then I began to think about Samuel.
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:7-10
Samuel was a young boy growing up in the temple. He heard God calling, but didn’t recognize His voice. He kept running to Eli, thinking the priest was calling him. Eli was obviously familiar with God’s voice and instructed Samuel on how to respond.
The response was simple: SURRENDER.
Samuel did exactly as he was instructed. He simply responded to the voice with a posture of surrender.
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
You can hear the respect, the surrender in his words. You can feel the humility, the desire to connect with the God of the universe. You can sense the anticipation, the desire to hear what God has to say.
God relentlessly pursued him.
And Samuel surrendered to the God who loved him enough to pursue him.
There was a time in my life where I was running from God, angry that He would allow me to suffer the pain of adultery and divorce. I had lost my security. I was mad at God. I had decided I could live my life my way and still go to church on Sundays…just like so many people in our Western culture do every single day.
I heard the gentle whisper, “Get your security from me.”
But I didn’t want to listen. I was angry, scared, hurting. I wanted the physical presence of a man, a human who could give me the security I longed for. But the harder I ran, the more I heard Him call.
“Get your security from me,” came the gentle, loving whisper.
He was determined to bring me safely back to the flock, to the place where He could lovingly guide and protect me. He wasn’t going to let me wander off by myself, away from His watchful eye. I was His child, His sheep.
And He loved me so much that He relentlessly pursued me!
Finally, I fell to my knees on the bathroom floor and cried out to God. “Lord, I don’t want this journey, but if this is what you have for me, I will take it. Just please don’t let my pain be in vain!”
That was over eight years ago. It seems like a lifetime, and yet I remember it as if it was yesterday. So much happened in that moment of surrender, a moment that changed the entire trajectory of my life. It was the moment I knew that I was His—at the core of my being, I belonged to my Heavenly Father and He loved me enough to pursue me until I surrendered to Him. It was the moment all my doubts melted away and I discovered just how much my Father loves me, just how good He is even when life is hard.
I don’t know where you are today, but I find myself running after my Heavenly Father, longing for the intimacy, longing to feel Him relentlessly pursuing me. This week marks the first week of the year, a year which I am starting with a prolonged time of fasting and prayer. My heart longs to give Him the first of my year, knowing He will bless the rest. My heart longs to be in a place of complete
I don’t know what He has in store for us in 2019, but I know I can trust Him. I know He longs for a relationship with me as much as I long for His presence.
What are you praying for this year? I am praying for my family and friends to find the God who relentlessly pursues them, the One who longs for an intimate relationship with His children. I pray we all pause long enough to sense the presence of our Heavenly Father as He runs after us. And, when we find His pursuit, I pray we surrender. Everything. To the One who loves us more than we could ever imagine.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5