As kids I imagine that we all went through that quirky stage in our lives when we thought that we were being followed by someone. That we all had that feeling that we were being stalked by some shady character who were out to get us . . . to scoop us up and do unspeakable things to us. Like some sort of scene out of a spy movie . . . we were being tailed . . . as if some snotty nose kid would have an international secret holding the fate of the free world in his or her hands. Whether we want to admit it or not, I am fairly certain we all had those feelings at some point in our childhoods . . . that we were being followed . . . that we were being pursued.
I know that I did. And, I also know that I thought that If I got far enough ahead of my pursuer, I could quickly turn around and catch them unaware . . . that I could surprise and confront them . . . that I would know the one stalking me. At least that is what I thought. The reality was far from what I imagined it would be. Usually my sneaky confrontation only produced a startled individual who glared at me like I was crazy.
And, maybe I was.
Well, the feeling eventually faded away, but it never completely disappeared. It popped up throughout my teens, young adulthood--actually, it still pops up even now . . . I still feel those moments when there is someone or something following me. Maybe it is a little paranoia, but I don't think so. I don't think so because I have a pretty good idea of who or what it is that is pursuing me--it is God.
Yeah, you read that right--God. And, just like when I was a kid, I still think that if I turn around quick enough I will be able to see and confront God. It hasn't happened yet, God is a lot quicker than I am. It seems that every time I turn around, I only catch a glimpse of the Holy. More often than not, I only see a fading shadow. I spend a lot of time apologizing to folks I startle with my little maneuver.
In his book, The Last Temptation of Christ, Nikos Kanantzakis begins his story with Jesus frantically trying to run away from an unseen pursuer. The footsteps get louder and closer . . . and, Jesus continues to run. But, there is no escaping this pursuer . . . the pursuer is relentless in the pursuit. Jesus grows weary . . . he is tired . . . physically and spiritually . . . and, he stops. He stops and allows his pursuer to over-run him. He surrenders . . . God has caught him.
I think the popular thought of most people is that we pursue God. Don't most of us state that we are on spiritual journeys . . . that we are looking for God in our lives? That we are searching . . . that we are the "pursuers"? At least that has been my experience with most of the people I have encountered through my years of being a pastor-- that we are all pursuing God in our lives. And, in those real quiet moments of reflection and prayer, many have confessed that they, too, can hear the footsteps behind them . . . footsteps of an unseen pursuer. We all do . . .and, so we keep running, telling ourselves we are the ones pursuing; but the truth is . . . we are the pursued. Our pursuer is God, though we do not want to admit it.
God has always been the one who pursues . . . read the Bible and try to explain to me how God could not be seen as the one who pursues. I'll wait . . . Not so easy is it? God is the one who pursues. Kanantzakis had it right in his book . . . God pursues. God wants to restore that which is broken . . . Wants to restore the relationship . . .the one who wants us back. We are fooling ourselves in thinking that we are the ones pursuing God . . .no, we are not running towards God . . . we are running away. And, get this, we are not quick enough to ever get more than a glimpse of that which pursues us--God.
So, why keep running?
God told us, early on in the Bible, that if we wanted to know the Holy all we have to do is to stop running. God told--and tells--us, "To be still and God." We need to stop running, be still, and allow God to overrun us . . . to know God.
I have found that when I have ceased running . . . when I have been still . . . I have encountered the living God. I have discovered god everywhere, like the air that I breathe . . . God is all around. As I write this I am sitting several miles up in the sky . . . surrounded by blue sky and fluffy white clouds . . . and, it is easy to imagine God's presence way up here in so-called heavens; but, anyone can do that because we do it all of the time when we throw ourselves in so-called Holy places. We pause, catch our breath, and start running once again. That is a fleeting glimpse . . . a mere shadow of what we seek and what pursues us.
We have to stop, be still, be quiet, and allow God to catch us.
God is all around us if we stop running. God is in the little child playing at her mother's feet waiting to catch the plane to go see grandparents back east. God is in the tired eyes of the man trying to make his way home after a long business trip. God is in the lady behind the food concession, who smiles and greets weary travelers. God is in the person beside be, gently snoring, and crowding me out of my seat. God is all around . . . glimpses of the living Presence . . . the Holy, if we only take the time to be still and know.
I still run, but as I have gotten older, I am growing tired of all the running. I know I'm not quick enough to catch God . . . but in those brief moments when I have allowed myself a moment of rest, God has almost overrun me. Maybe it is time to quit running . . ."Be still and know God," says the One who pursues.