Have you ever had to chase after someone that you loved? You saw them, you knew them, and you loved them. But...they didn't love you back. They really had no notion of loving you and at best only wanted to be friends; and you knew that. Yet, you chased them. You saw not even the hint of love returned. Unlike you, they didn't feel happy when you walked into the room. They didn't feel sad when you walked out. They weren't thinking of you when you weren't around; in fact they barely thought of you when you were. And you as much figured that. But you were driven by your love for them and a hope that one day they'd feel the same way. And so, you chased them. It's amazing the endurance we can find in our heart and our legs when we are motivated by love.
Usually in the movies the guy eventually gets the girl and the girl gets the guy. But not always so in real life. Some of you reading this right now are thinking of the one that got away even though it's been years since you gave up the chase. Some of you would start the chase all over again if given the chance, because that's just how love is. And if you think that the romantic, passion-driven love that we are capable of producing on our own will motivate a chase, then you need to hear about the power of the unconditional, unrelenting love that only God can give. Let me explain with a personal story.
See the bible I'm holding in this picture? That's the bible that was given to me when I graduated from high school in 1989 by the church I was a member of growing up, Mt. Bethel. Ironically, in this picture I was using that bible as an illustration when speaking at a baccalaureate service a few years ago. That's not my "preaching bible", but it's very special to me, and I keep it close by. When I was given that bible, I wasn't saved. I thought it was nice of the church to give it to me, but honestly I was more impressed by the monetary gift I received. I took it home and laid it down somewhere in my room. A few months later I went off to college. I really don't remember packing it, but that bible managed to follow me there. While at ECU (Go Pirates!), I stayed in two different dorms, and an apartment, and that bible came along with me. Granted, I don't remember opening it one single time. I graduated, moved back home for a while, got married the next year and moved into our own house. In all of that moving, I never remember packing the bible, but it managed to show up every time. About two years after I got married, I started to feel the pull of God on my heart, and I finally surrendered. And when that desire to read God's word hit me, I didn't have to look far for a bible to read. It was right there all the time. Now when I look at that Bible, you know what verse I think about? "Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.- Psalm 23:6 (NLT)
You see, I believe God was chasing me. God loves me so much that He pursued me for all those years. Long before I ever loved Him, He already loved me. Long before I ever reached out to Him, He was reaching out to me. He had been trying to send me messages all of my life to let me know how much He loves me and all that He has done for me. Yet up until that Sunday in 1997, I ignored every one. During the times I wasn't thinking of Him, didn't want to talk to Him, and certainly wasn't following Him, He was chasing after me. Now that is some kind of love! And one day I finally realized that, stopped running and gave in.
And guess what! God loves you that much too. So if you haven't turned to Him, know that He is still chasing after you. And He will until the world ends or you finally give in.