It made me laugh every time, even though I’d witnessed it over and over. The towheaded two-year-old leaned forward, bent his elbows, and clenched his fists as he imitated a world-class sprinter. With steely eyes fixed on his Papa Ron, a mischievous smile stretched across his face threatening to swallow it whole. Those eyes spoke the only question on the child’s one-track mind, “Well … are you going to chase me or not?”
Naturally, my fun-loving man always jumped straight up to signal the chase was on. Through the living room, past the front door, across the dining room, into the kitchen, and back around again they’d run with giggles and high-pitched screams bouncing off the walls. Round and round until Papa gave out. This familiar game always ended with the squirmy little guy getting swooped up and smothered in kisses.
Eventually, the little boy accumulated two brothers and a sister who never had to be taught how to play this game. It’s as if the need of feeling worthy enough to be pursued comes prewired into all of our brains. I feel sure one day our newest granddaughter will also want to play the same game.
Having someone give chase when your emotions make you feel like running away helps you realize how much you really do matter. Knowing your life matters lays a firm foundation for healing. However, if you repetitively struggle with fear, shame, discouragement, or any other negative emotion, you may never outgrow this game until someone faster finally laces up their running shoes and runs long enough to catch you.
I apologize for my thoughts being a bit jumbled today, but that seems to be the condition of my heart right now. On one hand, I’ve been encouraged by people coming to Jesus, Christians drawing closer than ever to Him, and the responses of many churches toward those who are hurting. However, if you watch any news at all, I’m sure you’ve become as discouraged as me by the evil running rampant in our streets, on our TV’s, and throughout social media. These are not unprecedented times (just read the Old Testament), but they are unprecedented to us.
Our lives have been turned upside-down in the last three months, and our hearts are overwhelmed as we all wonder what we could possibly do to make a difference. Like you, I’ve prayed much about that, and I believe God’s response to my heart was, “Go after those in your circle of influence who are on the verge of giving up, and let them know they matter.” God may provide you with a different response, but I cringe at the thought of overlooking the people who are dearest to me.
After my talk with God, I went to the Scriptures looking for an example of giving chase. It didn’t take me long to find a man who feared for his life so much that he denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times. Fear caused Peter to lie to save his own hide. (John 22:54-62) After telling that third lie, shame completely overwhelmed him as the eyes of Jesus met his. (Luke 22:61) Then, after the crucifixion, Peter became so discouraged that he ran back home, giving up all hope for a better life, and went back to fishing. (John 21:3)
How did Jesus respond to his hurting friend? He didn’t expect Peter to overcome all those negative emotions on his own. First, he made sure that the women visiting the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection were instructed to go and tell the disciples, and specifically Peter, that Jesus was alive! (Mark 16:7)
Jesus never thought, “Oh, Peter will hear I came back to life, and he’ll come looking for me.” No, Jesus went after him. He found him on the beach where he was fishing and even cooked him breakfast! Now, that’s my kind of friend. (John 21)
Look around your life. Who needs to know they matter? Who needs you to make the first move? Who needs someone to simply grab hold of them and listen to their heart for a pair of unhurried minutes or even hours? Don’t be afraid to get close enough to make a difference. Believe me, it takes less time, energy, and emotion to meet a problem head on than to have it linger for years and fester.
Prepare yourself for the run by staying read up, prayed up, and worshipped up. God’s words given to Moses are still true for all Spirit-filled believers, “Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:12)
If you happen to be the person running, take a glance behind you. Do you see a Jesus-follower back there? Let them catch you. Even though Jesus is always with you, you need Jesus with some skin on. You need to be swooped up and smothered with love. You matter enough to be chased and caught so you can heal and then do some chasing of your own.
Let’s help our souls (our mind, will, and emotions) heal. Only then, will we become a healthy army of hard-fighting soldiers who confidently march arm-in-arm into every battle against Satan, knowing the war has already been won!
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’”Luke 15:4-6, The Message