i will pursue you

It wasn't one of my finest moments.

Not something I am proud of.

Something else you need to know is I have stalker tendencies.

Yeah, Melissa, not the best way to begin a written piece.

But, here's the thing. I am all about being real and, I just have to believe I wasn't the only boy crazy teenage girl who stalked her victims...I mean crushes.

So, here is what happened. There was a cute boy who I had a pretty amazing crush on. So much so that, I knew he would be in a class, across the hallway from mine, and we would be walking the same direction to our next class. Our school had two separate buildings and we had to walk outside to get to the main building. I did this walk every single day. I memorized the cracks in the sidewalk, the places it curved and the various objects along the way. Yet, this day would be completely different than any other.

I was so intent on pursuing my beloved...er...boy crush. My eyes were on the back of his head; determined to catch up and join his stride. I was almost there when, the next thing I knew, I was sprawled on the ground - backpack and purse splayed across the ground. I laid there for a minute hoping nobody saw but, when it is the middle of transition time to the next class, well, EVERYBODY IS THERE and, yes, everybody saw it.

A couple of friends helped me up and gather my things but, boy crush gave a chuckle and just kept walking. You will be happy to know that I was over boy crush in that moment. Immediately he become "boy dummy" because any decent male will help a lady get up!

Needless to say, my ego was crushed, I was a little humiliated and couldn't confess why I missed the giant boulder in my pathway. The same boulder I would automatically go around each day I walked by. The same boulder that I was blind to because all my energy was going into pursuing this boy.

My pursuit did not go well.

When I think about what it's like to pursue Jesus, I find some commonalities with my teen crush pursuit. What if we pursued Jesus with similar determination? All eyes on Him; fully committed and intentional. Not caring about the distractions the enemy would love to throw at our feet to trip us up. What would happen if He became the object of our affection? How would our marriages, friendships, workplace, ministries, attitudes, and life circumstances be transformed? The great news? Even if we fall, Jesus will help us back up. (Take that boy crush!)

Jesus desires us and He wants us to pursue Him with everything we have. Jesus says at least 20 times, or more, to follow Him in the new testament. Many conversations involve Him telling others to follow up and pursue Him. (Matthew 16:24; John 8:12; Luke 9:23; Mark 8:34; John 10:27; Matthew 4:19; John 15:5-8; John 12:26; John 14:6; Matthew 10:38)

Did you know it's a mutual pursuit?
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  Psalm 139:7-8
He pursues us. He delights in us!
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17
How beautiful are those words?

It is comforting to know that not only should we pursue the Lord but, He also pursues us. Wow. So, how do we pursue Him? It can be easier said than done. I don't know about you but, I mean well. I truly do! A new year can kick off resolutions to spend more time in the word of God. I can resolve to set my alarm earlier so I have extra time to spend in His word. I can set my Bible out on the dining room table in an effort to remind myself to read it daily. But, here is the thing - we can all mean well and then fail. We will all have moments of forgetting or becoming distracted. In our best efforts to pursue and spend time with Jesus, it is inevitable that there will be times we seem to fail.

Don't beat yourself up! Don't let shame get the best of you. Understand that you are human.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:26
Okay so, now that we know we are failures, it can only go up from here. I say this with much tongue in cheek humor as possible! I really don't want us to come out of this feeling like failures. I hope that what I share will be an encouragement and, please know, I have in now way perfected any of this. What I do know is that I can only get better. Each of these thoughts are ones that have been strengthened over the years and, because of God's amazing grace and mercy, we all can rest in knowing we can only get better.

What can we do strengthen our efforts in our pursuit towards Jesus?

Understand there is an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to steal your time. He wants to kill your desire and he wants to destroy your relationships. Be keen to these things and you will know when it is the enemy trying to thwart your time with God. When worry, stress, fatigue, distractions, doubt and the like creep in, claim them as lies and give them to Jesus! He won't let you down.

Open your Bible. If you don't know where to start, find a piece of scripture that is familiar to you and just keep reading. This was one of the most wonderful pieces of advice early in my Bible reading career. It is a big book with lots and lots and lots and lots of information. It can be overwhelming. Verses like John 3:16 and Psalm 23 were forever embedded into my mind as a child. It is there that I started and I just kept reading. Find a reading plan on your bible app or something like She Reads Truth to help guide you and organize what you read. Keep it open!

Discipline your time. Oof. This is a tough one for me. I am easily distracted. The distractions can easily seep in as I am deep in reading, thought or writing and then, before I know, I've gone down a rabbit trail of looking at Facebook or daydreaming. It fascinates me how my mind can do this but, it is also frustrating when I am in a sweet place with Jesus. What I have learned, over the years, is that it is a muscle that needs strengthening. Discipline your time. Set a timer. Write a note or post its. Create an alarm on your phone. Do whatever you need to do to help you create the sacred discipline of spending time with Jesus.

Get connected in community. Listen all you introverts and those of you who think you are just fine on your own - God created us to be in community. He designed us uniquely in how we fill up and recharge but, we all have one commonality and that is the need for Biblical community. With it comes accountability, the ability to relate, and new perspectives. Stories are shared, walls can come crashing down and closed off places in our soul become open to God for restoration and healing. Disclaimer: relationships can get messy. This isn't to discourage you but to prepare you. Be ready for some conflict because, if you do, when it shows up, you will be prepared and will be able to navigate through it. Relationships become stronger when we do this. Trust me!

Pray and be in constant conversation with God. He is always there and listening. The communication lines are always open.

Have the attitude that you CAN do this. Many times we think we just can't. We say we are nervous or scared.  Listen, you CAN do this. God created you to be able to do this. Don't let the lies from the enemy tell you can't.

Do it your way. Do you like to journal? Then write. Are you an artist? Use your medium. Do you like to sing or play an instrument? Do some musical worship. Do you love to read? Find a good, theologically sound book and read. Always read scripture! Just because someone who seems more mature in their faith does it a particular way doesn't mean it will be the right one for you. I still remember the day I could use my hand lettering as a form of worship. It was a beautiful and intimate moment between the Lord and I as I wrote out scripture - carefully and with purpose. I also love the moments when I sit at my keys and play worship songs. Find what works for you.

This is not an exhaustive list of ways to connect with your Creator. He so yearns for you attention and I just know that He will bring to mind ways to pursue Him. Pay attention and take heed to what He says to you. And, get into the Word of God. It is good and reviving for the soul.


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