Since high school I have been an avid reader of Christian dating books. Lady in Waiting, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl, Praying For Your Future Husband, Dateable, When Dreams Come True, When God Writes Your Love Story–Yeah, I’ve read quite a few (some of them multiple times).
Over Christmas break I picked up a new one, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After by Bethany Jett. I haven’t made it all the way through yet, but the premise of the book is looking at dating from a pursuit standpoint. Cinderella dazzled Prince Charming so much that when midnight came and she had to leave, the prince went after her, searching the entire kingdom to find her.
Cinderella let herself be pursued.
In reading the first half of this book I’ve come at it from a rules mindset. This is what I have to do and this is what I probably shouldn’t do, and this is the area that’s kind of gray so do what you want. My mind frantically tried to get it all down so that when my turn came I wouldn’t get it wrong. However, I ended up tying myself up in anxious knots.
What if I mess up? What if I do something wrong?
Then somewhere around chapter four the light bulb went off.
I was going about this book the wrong way. This book is about being pursued. Apparently I forgot that pursuit means someone coming after me. As in I don’t have to do anything.
Wow. Imagine that. Being pursued is literally just that. I am the one chased after, not the one chasing. I must live right here and now and be myself and respond to the pursuit when it comes. I know that sounds so elementary, but it totally changed my view on things–not only on dating, but also with God.
With God, I’ve thought I need to initiate or do something when in reality He’s already initiated the best love story in the universe, and all He’s asking me to do is just be.
Be where I am.
Live in this love He has so lavishly poured out on me.
My relationship with Him doesn’t keep going because of me alone. I play a part, sure. I respond and I spend time and seek Him out. But no matter what I do, God is going to keep pursuing me. No matter how many times I run or how many times I chase after other things, He is always coming after me, loving me, pursuing me, calling me closer to Himself.
There’s another book I picked up over break that has really had an impact on my relationship with God in this area: Chasing God by Angie Smith. This book is phenomenal! I love Angie’s humor and her down-to-earth writing style. I love her depth and her vulnerability. She’s a God-chaser like me. At least, she was. The book is a collection of the lessons she’s learned about letting go of this idea that we have to chase after God; that we have do enough, be enough, say enough, read enough to please Him and see Him work in our lives.
This week I read a chapter from her book on naming the places in our lives where we may not see God’s provision like we want. Angie shared about Abraham sacrificing Isaac and the two times he cries out to God “Here I am”–the first time when God gives him the instructions to sacrifice his son, and the second time right before he lowers the knife.
Here I am.
There’s another man who responds to God that way–Isaiah when he encounters God in the temple. “Here I am, Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Both men, as Angie points out, speak those words in humility and obedience and holy fear of God. But there’s another place where these words are spoken:
“Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am” (Isaiah 52:6).
God speaks these words.
He speaks of the coming restoration and redemption of Jerusalem. But as I read those words while, nearly in tears, I thought about Angie’s words and God’s words.
I thought of Abraham’s name for the mountain: “The Lord will provide.”
I thought of the words the angels cried out before Isaiah uttered his “Here I am,” how they cried “Holy, holy holy is the Lord; the whole earth is filled with His glory!”
I thought of Immanuel, God with us.
And I thought of all the different ways I’ve uttered my own “Here I am”–most of which spoken with the hope that I might get something.
“Here I am, Lord, could you give me some answers?”
“Here I am, Lord, how much longer?”
“Here I am, Lord, have you forgotten?”
“Here I am, Lord, what am I supposed to do?”
The words meant as an invitation for God to speak and to come near had become a tool for me to get what I wanted. But reading those words in Isaiah 52 and seeing that God spoke those words that His people might know that He is here, I don’t know…It did something me. It was like a veil was pulled back and I was able to see for the first time that God’s provision isn’t some far-off thing I’m waiting for. His promise isn’t something I have to wait for.
God with us!
“Here I am!”
I want to utter those words to God without all the add-ons. I want to say those words with sincerity like Abraham and Isaiah, with a heart open to whatever God might want to do. I want to say to God, “Here I am, Lord” and respond to His offer to come close. I want to say “Here I am, Lord” and live fully right where I am; to let myself live in the now and be who I am without worrying about pursuit.
I want to say, “Here I am, Lord” and let myself be pursued by the King of Kings.
Take courage, dear heart. The Lord is near. Not only near, but here. Can you hear Him declaring it over you: “Here I am!”
Drop the lies that you have to do something, be something, or grab someone’s attention. You don’t. You already have His. He sees and He knows, and right here in this moment you can count on the fact that He is pursuing you right now.
Pursuit isn’t a later thing. It’s now!
God is here!
Live in His Love!