I am often encouraged at the thought of belonging to God. I find comfort in knowing that God, through His son Jesus Christ, will do whatever it takes to ensure that I persevere in faith until I reach my final destination in the presence of God. Jesus promises that he will not lose one of the sheep that follow him as a shepherd.[1] As in the words of an old hymn;

He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast.[2]

Even more amazing is that this promise of Christ extends to those who have yet to believe. Those that belong to Christ belong to him for all eternity. As a result God through Jesus relentlessly pursues the sinner. While we were in sin Christ died for us.[3] God in a gracious and loving manner continues to hold out his hand to wayward and obstinate people.[4]

C.S. Lewis who was an atheist in his young adult years tells of how he finally gave into the unrelenting thought of God. Lewis explained the moment in his book Surprised by Joy, “You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”[5]

C.S. Lewis’ wife Joy Lewis, explained Gods pursuit of her as “a cat, he had been stalking me for a very long time, waiting for his moment. He crept nearer so silently that I never knew he was there, then all at once he sprang.”[6]

Popular Christian author John Stott explained that “it was neither my parental upbringing nor my own independent choice; it was Christ himself knocking at my door, drawing attention to his presence outside…Yet through my sense of alienation and failure the Stranger at the door kept knocking…Christ’s knocking became louder and more insistent. Did I open the door, or did he? Truly I did, but only because by his persistent knocking he had made it possible, even inevitable.”[7]

Most beautifully, the pursuit of God after sinners is captured by Francis Thompson, who struggled with drug addiction and homelessness, in his poem the hound of heaven.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me. [8]

Thank you God for your never ending pursuit of sinners like me.

__________

[1] John 6:39

[2] Ada Habershon, He will hold me fast, 1906

[3] Romans 5:8

[4] Isaiah 65:2, Romans 10:21

[5] C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: the Shape of My Early Life, Reissue ed. (HarperOne, 2017)

[6] Lyle W. Dorsett, And God Came In: the Extraordinary Story of Joy Davidman: Her Life and Marriage to C.s. Lewis (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009)

[7] John Stott, Why I Am a Christian, (Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2003), 27-28

[8] Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven

 

 

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