Daily Chasing After God

When John shared Isaiah 58:2  in his sermon yesterday: “For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways” at first glance that verse appeared to be indicating that God’s people were getting it right, but then John pointed out the word “seem”.  As I pondered that word, I realized that it always leaves room for doubt. That one word opened up a plethora of thoughts for me.

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV)

Jesus quotes this Isaiah passage in Matthew 15 by saying:  You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”

To be a hypocrite means to be an actor; to play a role. I have to admit that for a number of years, my Christianity was a religion that looked much like that. I went through the motions, but my heart was not in it. I wanted my heart to be in it, but striving and “doing” to create a relationship with God will never work. Striving and “doing” can not bring life.  I was going after approval, I was going after reward from God, I was going through my checklist–quiet time, check; said a prayer, check; went to church, check; but it was dead. It was religion. It was a heavy weight. It did not produce the fruit of the Spirit. It did not produce transformation.  It was exhausting, and it was unsustainable. So, when John was talking about daily chasing after God, and differentiating between religion and relationship, the importance of the order of things began to take shape in my mind.

In John 14:15 Jesus says:  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  (ESV)

I used to look at that verse and interpret it as meaning “prove you love me by keeping my commandments”; however,  I now see it as saying if I love Jesus, truly love him, the natural outflow of that love will be keeping his commandments. It’s not a heavy weight to bear. It’s a beautiful relationship based on His love for me and my love for Him in return. Here’s the order: “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Therefore, knowing that He pursues me, and then pursuing Him, chasing after Him daily, produces exactly what John said.

Chasing after God daily creates obedience–not out of “have to” but out of “want to”.  Like David, I long for my heart to beat in time with  the heartbeat of God (Acts 13:22 MSG).  I’m continuing to discover that doing life His way is a delight. The transformation and fruit that come from delighting in God and seeking His kingdom first have no equal in this world. When I stop seeking His “stuff” and just seek “Him”, I learn that He truly is the reward, He is the treasure, He is the prize. Again–the order of things–“Seek first the Kingdom of God…”(Matthew 6:33)”

Chasing after God daily creates longing–I found the words “soul and spirit” in Isaiah 26:9a worthy of a second glance. “At night my soul longs for You. Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently.”  I believe that the soul is the part of us that houses our emotions, our will, our personality, in other words it is the intangible part of us that makes us who we are. I believe that  the spirit part of us is what God breathes life into when we come into relationship with Christ, and is therefore the part of us that connects with Him; my spirit connected to His Spirit. When Jesus tells the woman at the well that the Father longs for worshipers who will worship in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), He is saying–come to me with your soul bared, come honestly, come transparently, come authentically, come ready to connect your spirit to mine. Don’t come as an “actor”, don’t come because you “should”. Come, every day because I love you, and you love me.  Bring every feeling, every doubt, every celebration, every decision, all of you to me, and I will meet you there. He tells us: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah. 29:13)  Nothing could be better!   The daily dependency, the daily chase–this is where life is found. He alone is life.

Have you learned to chase Him daily? Tell us about your journey from “have to” to “want to” and the fruit that has come from it.

–Luanne

Like Luanne, I spent many years “doing” religion rather than pursuing Jesus in relationship. My checklist was long. My smile was plastic. My heart was hard, but longing to be soft–even though I didn’t yet know what that meant. I lived fake-and, for a very long time, I wasn’t even aware of it.

Contained within the inauthentic faith I was living was the lie that I had to mute my questions, manage my emotions and protect my heart-even from God. Especially from Him… Because I flat out did not trust Him.

John talked about asking the questions and fully feeling our emotions in an authentic way. He talked about this in the same part of the message where he talked about our longing for God, the depths of that longing, the seeking in the morning and at night and in every moment. This is not a direct quote, but this is what I heard and wrote in my notes:

“God is big enough to handle every emotion contained within our longing”.

I believe our longing for God is ultimately what drives us to keep chasing after that something we are seeking to fulfill us. We don’t always know that it’s God we’re longing for, but we all have that thing that drives us, that thing we need to find fulfillment.

In Ecclesiastes 3:11, out of the Amplified Bible, it says, He [God] has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]…

So our deepest longing, whether we recognize it as such or not, is actually to know God and live out of the eternal rather than the temporal. And that longing, it contains every emotion we feel. Because God created us that way. Our deepest sorrow, our richest joy, our frustration and anger and all of the “why” questions that flow from that place–they live within our ultimate longing for what we were actually created for. Our longing is bursting at the seams with emotion because our longing is actually for the eternal–and only the eternal can handle the full weight of our God-given emotions.

So this longing where our wildest emotions live, it leads us one of two ways–either we seek to fulfill it in everything but God, to no avail, or we find it satisfied in God, as we daily chase after Him. And I have found that the crazy thing about finding that fulfillment in God is that it then produces something–a greater longing. Because experiencing Him always leaves us wanting more, this side of Heaven. While we’re living broken lives on a broken, fallen planet, our longing will never feel fully fulfilled. But as we get to know Him more, it’s not so much a restless, searching kind of longing. It becomes, instead, a longing pregnant with anticipation, anxiously awaiting the day when we will know fully as we are fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

So, I’m asking myself again, and I’ll ask you, too: What are you chasing? What are you longing for? Is it God? What questions are you afraid to ask Him? What emotions do you try to hide from Him? He can handle all of the emotions contained within our longing. He gave them to us. Can we trust Him enough to give them back to Him in an authentic way?

-Laura

 

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2 thoughts on “Daily Chasing After God

  1. It seemed that most of my Christian walk I was always battling that shopping cart with the bad wheel; struggling and exhausting myself to keep it propelled in a straight line. I knew all the right things; could quote the verses. AND, I still couldn’t stay on course. Fear was my biggest setback. There were so many times that it crippled me, mentally, as badly as any physical disability could have crippled me. Time after time I’d think, “I’ve got it now! I got the plan! I am on track! Got it!” Soon I would find it was just one more “to do” thing that did little more than exhaust me deeper. Then came August, 2016.

    Compared to the health battles of many, mine was minor. In my world, though, it was pretty major. I could have just as easily died, as lived. The outcome was completely out of my control or the doctors, for that matter. That was my wall. I thought, in the past, a time or two, I had hit my wall, and maybe I had, but just not hard enough. This was the real deal and I know that because here we are almost 7 months post and I’m no longer pushing that shopping cart with the errant wheel.

    Unlike so many who suffer for months–years—on end in a dizzying cycle of ups and downs, forward and backward steps, mine boiled down to a relatively short whirlwind. The height was 6 days of falling, falling, falling with no net below me that I could see, just the promise that Jesus would catch me, whether I lived or I died. My faith was tested like never before. My family heard with non medical ears and they did their best to encourage me. I heard every word, clearly, with medical ears and I knew where I really stood.

    Six weeks prior I had 3 hours of surgery without anesthesia. From that point on I battled to not get an infection. I dragged around an IV bag permanently attached to my arm via a PICC line for weeks. Every day my arm grew larger and more painful and I was worn further and further down. All of the “tricks” I thought I had learned fizzled into the air like a bubble blown by a 3 year old. When finally the infection reached my pacemaker, and I became an instant emergency, I hit bottom and…I hit hard. I felt pretty ashamed of myself. Satan did a number on me and…I let him. I was numb when they signed me back into the hospital that night. It was there I had no choice but to surrender it all. I learned to free fall and praise—come what may. The minute I gave up is the minute life started to change—forever.

    I won’t tell you that there were no more bad times. There were many. The difference was what I heard from the Lord in my worst of my worst hours—-“Be about My business and hand ALL of yours over to Me.” Does it get any more simple than that? Had I not heard that for over 40+ years? YES! Finally I heard because my “had to” changed to a “want to” when all of my self sufficiency completely died. And, for 7 months there has been no sign of a resurrection. I give thanks and rejoice at that. That old “me”—Performer Extraordinaire!!–is not someone I ever want to see come back to life.

    Now, instead of finding new ways to battle fear I search after Him. I pray, “Teach me to seek Your Face!” He is the greatest desire of my heart. The time I spend with Him is precious to me. I covet it. I am very protective of it. I’m dizzy with love for Him. We have the best conversations—not monologues, conversations! He’s taught me to be still when the performer would have spoken. To listen with my heart. And OH has my heart ever changed! Wow! That part blows me away. I see past the person who used to annoy me and now wonder…what is their story that has made them hurt like, be angry like, be aggressive like this? How can I come along side them and ease their pain. I love it so much. Hours spent with Him past like minutes and all I want is more, more, more.

    Of course I’d have loved to have learned those lessons a far easier way but I wouldn’t trade one minute of that walk if it would take anything away from where I stand with Him today. There’s always deeper. Today I don’t think I could take more because I am breathless with what I have. Yet, I pray I get to go deeper. Maybe it won’t be here. That no longer matters much to me. Yes, I want to live, give, serve, love for as long as He desires, but I’d also be so content to sit at His feet forever more. The only way left this aging flesh can run is after Him. That’s the only kind of running I need or want to do so…I’m good with that.

    Liked by 1 person

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