“I will not leave you alone. You are mine. I know each of my sheep by name. You belong to Me. If you think I am finished with you, if you think I am a small god, that you can keep at a safe distance, I will pounce on you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds, and break every bone in your body. Then I will mend you, cradle you in my arms, and kiss you tenderly.”
––Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb
God stalks us. He never lets up. We can never, never out run Him. A popular 182 line poem, from a generation ago, was called “The Hound of Heaven“. It described a person being pursued by God. This is a single stanza.
I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated.
–by Francis Thompson
The very remarkable thing is not so much our prodigal hearts; rather it is the amazing love the Father has by chasing us. Jesus is consistently reckless about capturing us, and making us his own. His love is like a homing mechanism in a missile shot at us that defies our every escape. We can weave and dodge all we want, but we’ve been targeted, and He’s coming for us.
The way we talk and posture, it as if it is us that does the choosing. I’m not saying we don’t to a degree. But the Bible paints God in a different light. He initiates, and He chooses. He superintends our life, choreographing our movements. If you remember the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis it will support this reasoning.
My depression will never thwart or nullify Jesus’ love for me. I can’t point at it as a reason not to be his follower. He’s not intimidated by our medical conditions. My brain tumor and the death of my daughter didn’t phase Him. They are merely physical footnotes to the story of my life.
We opened with a Brennan Manning quote. Maybe you should read it again? (I had to read it 3x!)
Manning observes that life with Jesus will involve being torn to pieces and such. He will not complacently love us, He isn’t fond of you because you’re some sort of a likable person. His love can be rough, savage and furious. He is tempestuous at times, and quite intractable. He won’t let you go. Your issues are probably not as significant as you think.
“Those who have the disease called Jesus, will never be cured.”
If you’re depressed, manic, paranoid or delusional you can still surrender to Jesus. These aren’t your identity, they’re not permanent. Yes, I seriously get depressed, and have other major medical issues. My balance is messed up, and I must walk with a cane. But, I am his follower–first and foremost.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30, NLT
“Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you.”
(Check out my other blog on the Red Letters of Jesus. I post fairly regular there.)