“Get to your pursuit angles!!!” our special teams coaches would bark for what seemed at least 100 times per practice. “Get to your cone!” Once again, we would get back to our positions on the return team and wait for the football to be lazily kicked skyward, a bunch of teenage boys racing as fast as they could to their marked positions, spaced every five yards down the sideline with the intent purpose of forming a wall for the ball carrier to sprint behind.
Though I didn’t really appreciate the lesson, at the time (and having to do the drill over and over again until it was absolutely perfect), time has made me look back on those moments with fondness. Not in remembering the heat of even some of those early-morning special teams practices, but more for the life lesson that has solidified in my head and my heart, over the years.
There is not one area of our lives where the idea of pursuit doesn’t play some role. We pursue our dreams, our careers, our spouses and our families. We pursue pleasure, hobbies, money, comfort, popularity. Many of these things can easily turn into idols; however, it doesn’t remove the fact that we are called to pursue.
We are people who are called to lives of pursuit, just as our Heavenly Father is one who pursues – his own glory, but those of us who are called his children, particularly.
When I was in college, it felt like all I did was pursue – my studies, my hobbies, and especially relationships. That component of things, alone, got really tiresome…I felt like I was the only one who was really desiring friendship with certain people. In frustration, I simply said, “Enough. If they don’t want to reciprocate, then it’s not worth my time.” I know that there are times where that may be healthy, especially if a relationship is toxic. Yet, when it comes to most people, there’s an overall lack of pursuit in our lives.
As believers, there is a constant calling on our lives to pursue others. Just as our God pursues us with lovingkindness, with patience, and with his presence, we are a peculiar people charged with pursuing others – with love, with friendship, with the gospel. A shepherd never looks to his sheep to simply follow and pursue him; he must continually go towards the sheep, offering them protection, nourishment, and safety. Though we may not all be called to be under-shepherds within the church, part of our calling as the people of God is to “go after” others – knowing that that could mean simply within our homes and our local communities, or it could mean being set apart to move into a foreign culture to pursue the lost. Regardless, we are surrounded by those who either need to hear the gospel message for the first time, or need to be reminded of the goodness extended to us in the work and life of our Savior, Jesus. We are called to lives of pursuit.
Though pursuit can be tiring, and most certainly hard, at times – we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to continually look more and more like Jesus – the one in whom the ultimate example of pursuing others is wrapped up. Leaving his heavenly throne, he came into the world and perfectly pursued his own, dying in their stead, and forevermore reigning as their King, their High Priest, their Great Shepherd.
The days may be full of repetitive drills, being barked at to get to just the right positioning on the field. But our days are blessed to be filled by following the pursuit angles that we have been given by our mighty God.