The Chase {Guest Blogger: Emily Gavenda}

My friends, I'm so filled with joy at the beautiful presence of God in every moment! I'm so thrilled at the way He moves and works! I'm so humbled by His faithfulness and mercy. I'm recovering from three seizures yesterday {crazy!!}, and I'll have an update for you soon.

For now, I'm resting in the care of so many loving friends--the church truly being the Church--and I could use a good dose of humor! 

I'm not funny. Not even a little. I wish I could be funny. But humor just isn't my gift. 

It IS, however, for my dear friend, Emily. She's an incredible writer with a beautiful soul and a passion for Jesus. And....she's hilarious!  

It's an honor to have her sharing her heart with us today at To Choose Joy! Grab a cup of coffee and join me with Emily Gavenda! Your sides will split and your souls will be filled!


{Guest Blogger: Emily Gavenda}

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.19.10 PM.png

Hi, I'm Emily! I am a wife to my high school sweetheart and mom to our 4 kids. I love family hikes, ice-cream, reading and all my people curled up together on our couch. Most days I am wondering why I don’t like coffee and my sink is always full of dishes. My life is everything and nothing like what I had imagined it would be yet in his great mercy God keeps me dependent on Him (and laughter) daily. A deep conversation or a quiet hour to order my thoughts both leave me feeling equally full. I am passionate about God’s grace, especially in times of suffering and waiting. I am a writer, a joy-chooser, a grace-guzzler, a sarcasm-slinger, a hope-chaser and a Jesus-lover.


{The Chase: Part 2}

The other day I shared about the not-so-fun game my kids and I play, the game where they chase me down and corner me. I imagine them as villagers wielding pitch forks and torches but in reality it is more likely that they are carrying plastic swords and parasols. The villagers keep chasing me with their incessant requests & needs and I keep running away. No one is winning this game. You can read Part 1 of "The Chase" here.

It turns out there is another Chase taking place too, one where everyone is winning. In this chase it is God who is chasing after me. I shared a bit about it in my last post, but I wanted to talk more about it today.

Psalm 23:6 says " Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

 

Last time we talked about how in the original language the verb "follow" can also be translated as "hunting, chasing, pursuing". What an absolutely amazing thought! God's goodness and mercy are

  • chasing me,
  • pursuing me,
  • hunting me down.

And God is a persistent hunter, a wise hunter, a successful hunter. He isn't hunting me for sport. He is hunting me because He loves me, He chose me, and He wants to continue working in my heart.

When I am too weary to chase after Him or too lost in my own sin to pursue His paths, God in His grace comes after me. When I really think about it, it is almost too much for me to fathom.

 

When I was in seventh grade I had an embarrassing, extremely disproportionate crush on one of the men's basketball players for Syracuse University. His name was Etan Thomas.

{I was smitten.}

Now, I realize most people never get to meet their celebrity (or somewhat celebrity) crushes, but I was one lucky (and super awkward girl). My dad took me to a dinner party in Syracuse with the entire team.

It was amazing.

I got to meet all the players and get their autographs. My dad even indulged my sweaty obsession by spending entirely too much money during a silent auction to win me a signed Etan Thomas jersey.

 

You guys. I publicly nuzzled that jersey right there at the dinner table. I was convinced not only that Etan (we were totes on a first name basis) wore Old Spice deodorant, but that the jersey also smelled like Old Spice. Oye.

 

During dinner I somehow managed to get my wobbly, knock-kneed self over to Etan's table to ask for a picture with him. I couldn't speak. My dad had to ask him for me, because I just stood there pale, mouth gaping open and sweat cascading down my trembling body. Obviously, I was the picture of composure and grace.

To this day I sometimes wonder why on earth Etan didn't leave his girlfriend (who was right next to him at the table) and run away with seventh grade me. Clearly that was a missed opportunity on his part! Etan actually had to bring in a second player to bookend me in the picture so I didn't faint. I am not joking. I couldn't even smile. I just stood there even paler than normal (which is saying something), with way too much hairspray and not enough deodorant.

In the picture my face looks like I have a mouth full of marbles or as if I am paralyzed on one side of my face and can only muster the type of face my baby makes when he is filling his diaper.

 

What is my point in all this? Other than making everyone feel slightly better about their Junior High selves, my point is this: important people, famous people, high-up people don't chase us. We, much to our potential humiliation, chase them. And we get all sweaty about it.

But guys, God chases us.

He is relentless in His pursuit of our hearts. He was so relentless that He sent His Son to die in our place, so we could spend eternity with Him. That in and of itself is abundantly more than I deserve.

 

But the chase doesn't stop there. God keeps chasing me.

He chases me because He loves me.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life," (John 3:16).

He chases me because He chose me.

"...He chose us in Him from before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will," (Ephesians 1:4-5).

He chases me because He wants to continue His work in my heart.

"...He who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion on the Day of Jesus Christ," (Philippians 1:6).

 

He doesn't leave me where He found me. He is chasing after me, relentlessly, drawing me nearer to Himself. He is tenderly at work in my heart, chipping away at sin and struggle, leaving more of Himself in their place. God is not like me, the mom from Part 1, hiding in the bathroom with a granola bar. He doesn't withhold good things from us, His children. In fact, He chases us down to give us more of Himself.

I am pretty passionate about how God works all of our life together for good, despite many of these good things not looking good at face value. I could talk about it for hours. But that is for another day.

 

The point is, He chases us with His goodness and grace. He is a good hunter and a good father.

 

I can't out run or out sin God's steadfast love. I don't have to worry about getting it right on my own. God knows I am weak. He knows I am prone to wander or stop stubborn in the middle of the path or to just collapse in weariness unable to chase at all.

The celebrity is chasing me.

And because He is chasing me, because He loves me, it enables me to chase after Him and love Him.

"We love because He first loved us," (1 John 4:19).

Because God chases me, He causes me to want to chase Him. But this chase isn't futile. I am not chasing after someone who doesn't want to be caught.  I am chasing after someone who is already there, all around me in every thing He created, in every part of my day. We can seek for Him with the strength He gives and with the promise that we will find Him.

"God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him, and find Him, though He is not far from any of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said ' we are His offspring'," (Acts 17:27-28).
"But from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him, if you seek Him with your whole heart," (Deuteronomy 4:29).

 

I don't have to approach God in a Jr. High sweat, bony knees knocking, although his majestic holiness would deserve it. He doesn't want it that way. He is infinitely worthy of my praise, because of who He is. And He loves me and He wants me to approach Him like He is my father, my daddy. That makes Him infinitely worthy of my trust too.

 

As David ran scared for his life from King Saul, he said more times than I have counted that God was His refuge. The Psalms are full of prayers where David cries out to God, seeking God, finding God, worshipping God, taking refuge in God from the chase. I am sure I could list a hundred or more times, but here are a few of my favorites.

"Preserve me, oh God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, 'I have no good apart from you,'" (Psalm 16:1) ...actually all of Psalm 16 is amazing!
"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is he who takes refuge in Him!" (Psalm 34:8)
"For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, oh people; pour out your hearts to Him; God is a refuge for us," (Psalm 62:1-2, 7-8).
"For you have been my help, in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me," (Psalm 63:7-8).
"Let those who fear the Lord say. 'His steadfast love endures forever'. Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes," (Psalm 118:4-9).

What about you?

Are you weary from the chase-from people demanding things of you, sucking you dry? And from searching in the wrong places to be replenished and find your refuge? I know I am.

 

Some days, in some seasons of my life, I find myself too exhausted to chase after God, but oh how I want Him! Oh how I need Him! What a balm for my heart to know that He chases me.

In my weariness, in my sin, He chases me.

 

  • How does this news encourage you in your own "chase"?

  • What are some ways you have experienced God chasing after you?
  • What does it do to your heart to know He gives you strength to in turn chase after Him, knowing He wants to be found?

 


Did you love The Chase: Part 2? Find Part 1 HERE.

You can follow Emily on Instagram @Emily.Gavenda

and hear more of her amazing words at PurpleIsHerColor.com.