So many times as believers, we are overly focused on looking like other Christians and not nearly as focused on looking like Christ Himself.
For a good part of the last 12 years that I have been a follower of Christ, I have struggled to feel peace about what being a “Christian” is supposed to look like. Since I was an adult when I accepted the Lord, I felt like I had a lot to catch up on.
I started to have conversations with friends—quietly and nervously at first—about whether they ever wrestled with the sense that when it came to living out their faith, they weren’t sure they were “doing it right.” But about a year and a half ago, the Lord really started to challenge me in the way I was approaching my faith. He revealed a perspective I hadn’t ever been able to verbalize for myself, and it changed the entire way I now live out my faith.
In essence, I realized that I wasn’t really “following” God or “walking with Him” so much as I was chasing Him.
When you are chasing the object of your affection, there is a keen sense of the possibility that you might not ever reach it. More than that, when we see ourselves as the pursuers instead of the pursued, we live out of the desperation that comes from feeling that it’s our effort that leads to relationship.
The problem is, I think many people are chasing God without even realizing it, and I want to challenge believers to dig into basic questions about their view of who God is—who I am in light of Him? What are my “responsibilities” as a Christian?—and some much more difficult questions, as well: What if I sometimes doubt this is real? Does that mean I’ve missed the boat on how to live out my faith well?
The bottom line is this: When we try to fill the gaps of our faith with religion, we are chasing God. We place upon ourselves and others more rules, more stacks of what’s required and the driving realization that we might never experience Him the way we long to.
It’s easy to measure with the wrong ruler and feel you’ve come up short, and it’s equally easy to spend our efforts pursuing things the Lord hasn’t asked us to pursue.
If you’ve ever created false expectations from the Lord or if you’ve lived with a nagging sense of, “Will I ever really catch up with Him?” I have wonderful news: You, friend, were never meant to chase God. He pursues you relentlessly, offers you everything and declares you His in every sense of the word.
And yet, a good portion of us insist on chasing despite the truth. We say to ourselves,”How could a God so good come for me? How could He love me? There must be something I can do to make it feel more fair.”
But that isn’t the way He designed it, and the more of our days we spend searching, the fewer we will have at the end of it all to say we genuinely walked with Him.
The goal is, and has always been, true communion with a God who desires it, not a fumbling, desperate, disappointing attempt to “do the right thing” and hope it leads to at least a glimpse of Him.
Following someone indicates that you identify them as being ahead of you and you have committed to stay on the path being carved in front of you. On the other hand, chasing after someone leaves you out of breath, searching every chance you get for a sign that you’re heading toward the goal.
Following instead of chasing is simple, but not easy. So what do you say? Are you ready to stop chasing God?
Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Selah) and the best-selling author of several books, including her most recent, Chasing God (B&H Publishing, January 2014).