Pursuit! Even the sound of this word evokes a sense of intentional action, a deliberate and focused following—in short, a passion fueled by a purpose. It is a noun that cuts equally across the landscape of love, leisure, work, and war, because it describes an attribute of our character that flowers out of the root that is our free will. In other words, pursuit is the exercise of our ability to make choices. Therefore, all of us “pursue” something. If we distill all of our choices down to their rawest form at any moment in time, what is left is this: we are either pursuing God or we are pursuing “self.” It really is that simple.
What is not so simple is actually living in pursuit of God, leaving “self” behind. Jesus said it this way:
“…If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25 (NASB)
That is easy to read and hard to do. Impossible actually, without the power of the Holy Spirit, and the will to discipline ourselves into submission to His will. Here is Paul on the subject of pursuit:
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NASB)
So, I am challenging myself here in the beginning of the year to evaluate what I think, do, and say in the light of these words of Paul. Am I living the way an elite athlete in disciplined training lives? Am I practicing self-control in all things? Do I see the race course for what it is, and is the prize—the hope for the imperishable—more than an abstract concept for me?
What about you? What are you pursuing this year? This is not a one-time question for believers, for we are all in the race daily, moment by moment. Oftentimes, the practical answer to that question is evident to those around us in the way we act and react, rather than in what we say. The Lord wants a commitment to run, to keep running, one foot in front of the other. And along the way, the reality will dawn on us—God pursues us!