I’ve been a believer for most of my life – in fact, since before I went through confirmation class at Trinity Methodist Church in Chicago when I was thirteen. I grew up in a family where there was no question that our mother was a Christian but Dad – well, Dad had renounced his faith sometime when he was probably a young teen. I never knew for sure, and I was told that he was a believer when he was a young boy, but something happened along the way and he changed his belief.
Thankfully, Mom’s faith was strong enough that it caused me to continue my Christian walk although there have been times in my life when I have fallen away from formalized religion or attending church during the early years of Janet’s and my marriage. We were of the same denominational background – and we attended the same church where our parents met and became best friends. That was in 1959.
In an odd sort of way, I have been drawn into a much deeper relationship with God for almost a quarter of a century now. I came to a point that realized that there was a void in my life that I wanted to fill… I never renounced my faith but I wanted a much closer relationship with God.
Based on my life experience, I had come to the conclusion that we must approach God rather than God pursuing us. If I wanted a closer relationship, then I had to initiate it – I had to pursue God. After all, if God pursues us, why didn’t He pursue Dad after he renounced his faith? Or why did I have to wait until I was almost 47 before I felt strongly enough about my relationship with God to go to seminary?
Think of all those years that I could have impacted the kingdom of God. Why…did I have to wait? Sometime during my seminary journey, which was one of the richest periods of life I have ever experienced, I changed my mind and admitted that maybe God does pursue us. The longer I studied the more I believed that God does pursue us – even relentlessly.
In studying Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, I realized that there was nothing we can do to earn our way into heaven. Salvation is a gift – we just have to accept it – and since we have free will, we can accept it, or not.
In fact, it is God who does the work of preparing our hearts to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior – and the eventual indwelling of the Holy Spirit once we accept God’s offer of eternal life. We don’t do any work – we just accept the offer if we want to… And I have come to believe that God did pursue me into a deeper relationship with Him – in His impeccable timing. The truth is that I wasn’t ready to go deeper until I was!
Maybe the same thing is true with Dad as well. I’m sure God pursued him, but God won’t force us into anything that is against our will. And what gave me hope was the day before our youngest brother died. He referenced seeing Dad as the glimpses of heaven became more frequent during his last day. It was the most hopeful I have ever been about the possibility of Dad making a decision that he wanted to spend eternity in heaven. Wouldn’t that be awesome! Of course, I won’t know for sure until I get there.
Our verse for tonight affirms the fact that God does, for sure, pursue us! In fact, Jesus tells us that He is involved as well as the Father, and we know that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens when we become believers. So all three members of the Trinity are involved in our walk toward salvation. That’s really noteworthy!
The apostle John tells us, in John 6:43-44, “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
My encouragement this evening is that we can depend on the promise of God that He chases us and pursues us relentlessly. My prayer is that we will recognize the desire of God to be first and foremost in our lives – and His plan to spend eternity with us – if we want! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…