“No one has ever tenderly pursued me,” my friend sighed. I felt the pain of her heartbreak as we talked over the invisible burdens we carry.
I have never forgotten her statement. Her words resulted from a father who abandoned her, a mother who showed no gentleness and a husband who passively responds rather than actively initiates. Her statement of longing reflects our deepest need — to be tenderly pursued by someone — not because we deserve it, but just because we are.
We Need a Pursuer
God became Immanuel to meet our deepest need. Immanuel — so familiar to us in Christendom. If you were asked, “What does Immanuel mean?” chances are, you could quickly spout, “God with us.” You’d be exactly right, yet knowing the meaning isn’t the same as being deeply touched by the Person.
We too often simplify Immanuel’s profundity by seeing His coming only as God’s presence, proximity or promise. He is with us, near us and won’t ever leave. Though true, the most beautiful picture of Immanuel reveals God’s tender pursuit of the people He loves. Immanuel doesn’t mean “Us with God.” Immanuel means God with us.
The coming of Immanuel places the activity of pursuit on God. He is present because He chooses to be. We are mere responders and receivers.
He became flesh so He could be “with us.” He allowed Himself to be wrapped in swaddling clothes to be “with us.” He wore dusty sandals, rode the crest of tumultuous waves and tasted the salt of His own tears at Lazarus’ tomb. His hands touched lepers, and His back carried our cross so He could be with us.
We Can’t Chase God
You know what we did to be with God? Nothing. And we’re incapable of being with God without His grace. And without Immanuel. We need a God with us because we are unable to be with Him…without Him. He initiates companionship. He draws us to Himself. He pursues us tenderly.
We have a God with us. Many world religions have gods that demand “us with god.” Work. Strive. Please. Clean up. Try harder. Be better. Pursue him. Then, just maybe, god is with us. Christianity has the One true God Who seeks to be with us and makes it possible for us to be with Him. There are requirements for being with Him, though, and He met them all for us. Through Christ, we are reconciled with God. (Colossians 1:19-22)
The same God who tenderly pursued fallen man in the garden and then clothed him (Genesis 3:8, 9, 21) is the same God who tenderly pursues us and clothes us through Immanuel’s sacrifice. Receive and respond to His pursuit today and have your deepest longing met.
Leave a Comment: How does understanding God’s pursuit of each of us change or shape how you lead?