An uneasiness gnawing at you, the kind you know too well. It's getting late and you're dozing off, the anxiety growing like this thorn in your side.
A stained glass window, its image projected by this illumination that is light.
Can it even be considered sinking too deep any more? How you wake up and you've been reciting truths a day too long and they've lost their power. They're factual pieces of information that mean nothing to the heart.
We're in a race, aren't we? We're not stopping, we're looking forward, to this hope calling us onward? There's no denying it, and Paul preached it with his life.
But really, where are we running? Honestly, what are our eyes fixed on?
It's one thing to pray to know the hope to which we've been called.
I guess it's another thing to long for it as Hope.
We're engaged in a pursuit. Oh, this sweat dripping. Neck aching. Heat burning through two pairs of socks.
A pursuit is an occupation, and an occupation is deemed a worthy title regardless of its motive and sentiment.
A pursuit is motivated by an effort to secure or attain.
To pursue incites an idea of endurance. And the idea of a pursuit renders the existence of two persons.
A pursuit involves the fierce determination of one thus entailing the capture, or hold, of another.
And so you want to know what's wrong? How I'm living out the apostle Paul's nightmare, of running this race in vain?
I proclaim to be a Pursuer, and from this reassure myself of a reasonable measure of worthiness. "Oh, Jesus," I say. "I want to know You. Oh, oh, I do." Convincing myself of my own sincerity. I keep on running.
Oh, this running is in vain.
I hear you. Keep on, you say. It's what the brave of us do, we carry on. Yeah, we do.
Only, we forgot. Jesus reminds us of this at the end, in Revelation.
And I don't want to get to the end, only to be reminded.
"Though has left thy first love."
We manage to scrounge up some kind of glory for ourselves, courtesy of our motivated pursuit. I want to know God. Oh, I want to fall in love with You.
In a world craving position, we assign ourselves such a worthy role as Pursuer.
I suppose this allows ourselves a sense of legitimacy regarding our religion, hey. I'm active. I'm moving, enduring, persevering.
So what's wrong? See, it's this.
Jesus is fully in love with us. 1 John 4:10,
This is real love. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us.
For me to adopt the role of Pursuer implies that it is I who is fully in love with God, that it is I who first loved Him.
What I envision really only exhibits what I truly long for -- to find Jesus in my own worthiness. It seems strange, because aren't I fully aware of the fact that I'm this unworthy made worthy in grace? You bet I'm aware of this fact.
I'm aware of a lot of facts.
I know that there's no life in the attempting to build a life for ourselves, in the maintaining and protecting and securing -- that to live is always, only, in the laying down of our lives.
I know that I've got to surrender this desire to overcome my insufficiency, though it hinders my ability to impress others, and I know I've got to get over this longing to impress that comes from my selfishness.
I know that life is this continual holy harvest of grace -- and the harvesting is always in the thanks.
I know that I've got to surrender these desires to be glorified and loved and praised and honoured and esteemed and liked and approved.
I know that none of this grace I'm wading in is my own doing, and I know that His promises are true.
I know that the only thing that matters is that we know You, that we love each other into this Knowing because our being fully just longs that they know You
I know that You love to glorify Yourself, by Your grace in our joy.
I know that it's Jesus who satisfies, all only Jesus and nothing else is anything but in the fullness of Him.
I know if we knew how deep and real Jesus loves us, how different we'd live, because we wouldn't be loving in order to be loved but because we are loved.
I know that if I knew the hope to which You have called us, if Heaven as Home was my confident hope -- then that would change my love for people and would cause a shift in reliance of myself and people... to fully depending on God.
Only, this is all it is. A factual knowing. This corrupt heart of mine is too busy masking it's trivial pursuits of glory (Galatians 5:19-21 MSG) as holiness to care too much.
Regardless of my idiotic heart and its disregard of the permeation of truth -- if we're forced to go by mere logic? --
then I am being relentlessly pursued by the One whom I profess to be pursuing.
Were it that I desired to be caught, to be taken hold of -- to be rescued -- by my pursuer? I'd give up this race and heed His call.
If it is true that I am being pursued, how is it that I can so justifiably assert my own position as Pursuer?
The Old Testament is the continual plea of a lover who refuses to abandon his people: who refuses to give up the chase: who refuses to let them die forever in their own self-glorifying pursuits, however masked. The book of Amos echoes His cry over and over.
Come back to the Lord and live.
And it was some time ago I read the story of one broken leper's response, unable to conceive its truth anyplace beyond this head of mine. How there were ten men, covered in disease, all longing to be cleaned. How they kept their distance, calling out to Jesus, "Mercy! Have mercy!" How Jesus sent them on their way and they're running, running in pursuit of healing --
and occurs this instantaneous cleansing of their bodies,
this immediate ridding of a disease that had claimed their lives.
How nine of them continue running. The real goal of their running pursuit remembered -- a restored life. Oh, how good to return. No looking back.
How one man stops in his tracks. How this one man stops mid-run and stops because the goal of his pursuit has been satisfied -- he is clean -- he turns around and comes back to Jesus, falls at his feet, full of gratitude.
I learned a truth awhile ago. A changed life -- is a life lived not in pursuit of what I want, but in response to who You are.
My role is not to be the Pursuer. My role is this grace I am wholly unworthy of resting in -- to Respond.
To recognise cleansing for what it is: holy grace bleeding at the foot of the cross.
And to live a changed life by stopping in my tracks no matter what record time I'm keeping and come back to the Jesus and live, pouring perfume over His feet and crying over them with my tears and drying them with my hair --
because I've been forgiven much,
including this insistent clamouring of every vain pursuit I run toward.
"Stop being so preoccupied with getting, so that you can respond to God's giving."
It seems strange to us in this place. How this run Home? Begins bowed at His feet. This only place you'll ever stand, let alone run.