Stumbling Upon Heaven

God Is Relentless in His Pursuit

God’s love is unquestionable, for He has put up with an unimaginable degree of disobedience and rebellion in our hearts. God’s love is also so unreasonable because of His never-ending patience and mercy with our stubbornness and refusal to surrender to His will at times. What love is this that is so inexhaustible and unyielding? When we might expect our failures would evoke an attitude from God of “Enough is enough, I’m done with you!” He never ceases to pierce the deepest part of our hearts and draw us back to Him in such gentle and mysterious ways. It was the ultimate expression of such an unfathomable love when God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for a world that didn’t deserve him so that through him the world might have hope. How can God offer such incomprehensible grace that never runs dry and never withdraws? Such a furious love as this is the reason God never gives up on us, even at our worst. But what is God looking for in us? Is there any response that God desires from us on account of His great love? The only thing that God asks of us is that we reciprocate with the same ferocity of love and devotion that He has offered us. God has been relentless in His pursuit of us—of our hearts. He only wants us to give Him everything that we are because He has given all of Himself to us.

God Pursues Us

God wants us to have an unbreakable confidence in Him and in His character so that we will continually trust Him and recognize that He is ALWAYS for us. Is there any other proper response to such an unending, perfect love than to surrender all that we are to Him in awe and wonder, with every part of our being crying out with praise and thanksgiving for how He has never given up on us? While the offering of His Son is more than enough reason for us to respond to God with complete faith in Him, He is not satisfied with our faith alone—He desires to permeate our entire lives and form in us everything that reflects His goodness and glory.

The famous Scottish evangelist and teacher Oswald Chambers wrote,

“Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the outward expression of that relationship must also be right. Ultimately, God will allow nothing to escape; every detail of our lives is under His scrutiny. God will bring us back in countless ways to the same point over and over again. And He never tires of bringing us back to that one point until we learn the lesson, because His purpose is to produce the finished product. It may be a problem arising from our impulsive nature, but again and again, with the most persistent patience, God has brought us back to that one particular point. Our problem may be our idle and wandering thinking, or our independent nature and self-interest. Through this process, God is trying to impress upon us the one thing that is not entirely right in our lives….Beware of becoming careless over the small details of life and saying, ‘Oh, that will have to do for now.’ Whatever it may be, God will point it out with persistence until we become entirely His.”[1]

 

No One Really Wants to Change

How inclined are we to subject ourselves to being renovated by God and fashioned into vessels that increasingly resemble Him more and more? This sounds like something that every Christian would desire, but oftentimes an idea sounds a lot better in our minds than in reality. It actually takes a deep commitment and a serious level of submission to be willing to have the very fabric of your being altered to the point that you end up becoming an entirely new person. So why are we afraid of being changed in this way? Is it because “we like what we like” and we don’t want to be told “No,” or is it the shock of the realization that we are imperfect and in need of being improved? No one feels good about finding out they need to be upgraded to a newer version, even if the newer version is the better one.

 

Transformation Involves Change

The willingness to undergo such a transformation requires a great deal of dedication and perseverance. As tenacious as God is in working with us, we need to show the same tenacity in sticking with His program as long as it takes. This type of perseverance is often described in Scripture as “endurance.” James writes that the testing of our faith produces endurance, and that believers are to “let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything” (Jas. 1:4 NET). Part of growing in our faith and becoming more like our Savior Jesus Christ is allowing God to change us from the inside out, and such change takes time and may not be easy. But if we endure and allow God to stretch us and do that perfect work in us, we can draw closer to the goal of being complete in Him, one step at a time.

However, when we think about our need to be transformed and remodeled into a new vessel for God, we naturally resist such change. Most of us probably feel that we just want to be accepted as we are and don’t want to have to lift a finger or put forth any additional effort as God’s people. We tend to stumble over the reality that heaven brings. Complacency has no place in God’s kingdom, and a lackadaisical, self-content attitude is in opposition to life in the kingdom, which is radically different than the world in which we currently live. Paul taught that kingdom life is about surrender and conformity—not to this world and the systems of it but rather surrender and conformity to God’s will. This is the transformation that God desires for every believer: “Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2 NET).

 

Grace Gives Us Freedom to Change

But how does our need to be transformed and changed equate with our freedom in Christ? People often misunderstand what it means for God to pursue us and to expect us to become a new person, leaving behind our old ways. That just looks like another form of slavery to them. What most of us fail to realize is that obedience is the expression of our freedom, and God’s pursuit of us is an extension of His grace. Grace is God’s hand reaching down to us over and over again, picking us up off the floor and helping us to recognize our mistakes. It is God’s way of shaking His finger at us while holding us in His arms at the same time; His way of telling us that there’s more and that we’re settling for less.

 

Grace Pushes Us to Go Deeper

One of the best definitions that I have come across to understand grace is that it is, “nothing more nor less than the face that love wears when it meets imperfection, weakness, failure, and sin.”[2] Grace is that quality in God’s heart demonstrated in how He doesn’t give up on us, and He also doesn’t let us give up on ourselves. While we might think we are okay the way we currently are, God is drawing us into a deeper life with Him, and that life starts with recognizing that there’s more than what we know. In order for us to find that “more,” we must submit and be transformed by God for our own good and for His glory: “For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace” (Heb. 13:9 NET). If we want to experience that true life that God has made available through His Son Jesus Christ, we need to not stumble upon heaven but receive the gentle instruction and be willing to let go of who we used to be. If we are willing to become clay for the potter, God can form us into beings who testify of His goodness, grace, and love to the world. Live your life for the kingdom and let heaven reach into your heart. Grace will always win. We just need to stop fighting the change it brings in us.

 

 

[1] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Uhrichsville: Barbour, 1963), n.p.

[2] Joseph R. Cooke, Celebration of Grace (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 13.

3 comments

  1. This is an encouraging article to turn our daily, minute-by-minute focus on “walking by the spirit.” As our love for the Father grows and our relationship with His Son develops, the transformation of our thoughts and actions will naturally occur. However, let us remember that we are already “completely, completely complete IN HIM” and we cannot add anything to our spiritual perfection within. We are secure in our birthing and lovely in His sight no matter what.

  2. I love the point about obedience being the expression of our freedom. God wants us to choose to live him and our obedience is essential to our growth but it is always our choice. Too many people have balked at the word and associated it with oppression. The very fact that God loves us unconditionally and gives us the CHOICE to obey it disobey (sin) tells us about the freedom that we have.

  3. Very encouraging and uplifting article

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