Passionate Pursuit

The other night, I poured myself a cup of hot tea, kicked off my shoes, picked up my knitting and settled deep into the sofa to relax with a movie.  Something about fall reminds me of the scenes in Anne of Green Gables as she strolls along the tree-shaded pathways and the leaves reflect the changing seasons.

So, I put in the DVD of the Anne of Green Gables sequel and watched one of my favorite stories play out on my television once again.

As I sipped my tea, I realized that what seems so romantically endearing and compelling about her love story with the straight-talking Gilbert Blythe is his willingness to pursue her.  He may have fallen in love with her in grade school when she broke her slate over his head after he called her “Carrots,” yet he waited for her.

And waited.

And waited.

He cheered her on and encouraged her success, asked her to marry him, was rejected, waited some more, got sick and nearly died, and asked again.

Maybe that’s the great romance we’ve all dreamt of or longed for as school girls or teens or even grown women.

And even while part of me wants to scream at Anne through the television to drop all of her “high-faluting’ mumbo jumbo” and just realize already that love is right there in front of her, part of me is entranced.

It’s true in all my favorite stories, every book I own with its cover falling off and the pages worn from me turning down the corners for want of a bookmark: Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, Emma . . .

In each story, the theme is the same.  The girl remains comfortably clueless that a man is in love with her, but he is captivated by her beauty and strength of character, her wit, her capacity to change and grow . . . and he pursues her relentlessly until she finally discovers she loves him in return.

In her book Captivating, Stasi Eldredge says:

“We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing, worth fighting for, a beauty that is core to who we truly are. We want beauty that can be seen; beauty that can be felt; beauty that affects others; a beauty all our own to unveil.”

Perhaps many of us do long for a beauty that captivates—-a beauty worth pursuing. Like Anne or Elizabeth or Emma, we want to know that we are worth noticing, worth waiting for, worth sacrificing for, worth fighting for . . . just worthy.

So that when the world beats us down with reminders of standards we can’t meet and the girl next door makes us feel ugly and clumsy with her model-like beauty and when we’re run-down from dishes and laundry and carpools and mess . .  .we still feel that message deep down that we are captivating and we are loved.

Yet, no matter how lovely we may be, with the God-beauty of our character inside where it counts or with sparkling, head-turning physical beauty, we aren’t always pursued.  We don’t, after all, live in a historical romance novel or in Jane Austen’s world of matchmaking and marriages.

It just doesn’t always turn out that way.

And yet pursuit is always part of our Great Romance.

Psalm 45:11 says,

Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
    honor him, for he is your lord.

God doesn’t have to romance or woo us.  He could remain distant and unmoved.  Surely the beauty He sees in us isn’t really so worthy of His attention and He could toss out a marriage proposal and conclude with, “take it or leave it.”

Yet, He bends low and tenderly calls, He watches as we trample after worldly enticements and then calls us back time after time.

Like Hosea relentlessly chasing after his wife, the wayward Gomer, so God says:

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.

And more than any of that, God Himself laid aside the glories of heaven to walk among us, to live for us, to die for us, and to make a way for us to spend eternity with Him.

That’s love.  That’s pursuit in the most wildly passionate and extravagant way, more than any bouquet of flowers or poetic marriage proposal.

Stasi Eldredge reminds us that:

“The story of your life is also the story of the long and passionate pursuit of your heart by the One who knows you best and loves you most”

Remember today that, while you may not be perfect or totally worthy, still God loves you and is enthralled with the beauty He created in you.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

I’m Sorry: Lessons in the Art of Apologizing

As a girl, I think I read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s whole Anne of Green Gables series at least ten times.  My friends and I used to watch the movies together and even gave each other nicknames from the story.  To this day, my friend still writes notes addressed to me as “Anne” that are signed, “Diana.”

There’s a moment in the movie when Gilbert pleads for Anne’s forgiveness and says, “I’m sorry” in his Canadian accent with a puppy-dog look in his eyes.  That always sent us into giggles, a whole room full of middle school girls just tickled to pieces by his apology.

I can’t say for sure why the story of Anne has been on my mind so much lately or why I’ve been dying to watch the movies again after more than a decade.  But maybe it’s because of Gilbert’s, “I’m sorry” and the fact that those are words we’ve been hearing and saying around my house a lot lately.

Now that my baby girl is two-and-a-half, we’ve been trying to teach her the principles of personal responsibility and forgiveness. She’ll stomp her way out of her bedroom with her arms crossed tightly across her chest and her eyebrows crinkled in anger.  Then she’ll tattle.  “Lauren jumped and hit me on my arm.  Victoria dropped her book and it hit me on the head.”

Usually, it’s all just an accident, a mishap resulting from too much silliness at bedtime.

Whatever the circumstance, purposeful hurt, accident, or misunderstanding, my toddler feels the need to receive justice and isn’t in the mood to give grace.

So, we make a big deal out of demonstrating a proper apology to her.  The offender looks her in the eye and says very clearly, “I’m sorry for . . . ” and then hugs her to seal the reconciliation, which she normally rejects.  She’d prefer to feel angry for a while.

The goal, ultimately, is to teach her that when she pushes others or knocks over her sister’s Lego tower or messes up their projects, she needs to say, “I”m sorry” in just that same way.

We’re still working on that part.

This is all a matter of grace. It’s learning that sometimes we mess up and hurt others and we need to own up to that.  There are few things more humbling—and downright hard—then saying, “That was my fault.  I was wrong.  I’m sorry.”

Yet, grace is much easier to give when we’ve been the recipient of grace ourselves.  Likewise, it’s a little bit easier to apologize when we realize we aren’t the only ones who make mistakes sometimes.

It’s all a matter of remembering what’s been done for us already.

God makes this point throughout Scripture, reminding the nation of Israel often to remember where they came from, what they’d been through, and how God had rescued them.  That national memory needed to impact how they treated others, particularly the poor, oppressed, and weakest among them.

God said:

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34).

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today”
(Deuteronomy 15:15)

“Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt
(Deuteronomy 10:19).

God reminded them all the time that they were slaves in Egypt, toiling hopelessly with no freedom or self-determination.  Their sons were murdered at birth.  Their worship hindered.  For 400 years, they had been the oppressed people.

Then God rescued them and blessed them.  He led them to the Promised Land and gave them victory.

So, remember, He said, to treat foreigners, the poor, widows, and orphans well by blessing them and loving them.  Why?  Because that used to be you.

It’s no surprise, then, that Paul picks up a similar theme in the New Testament, this time reminding new believers to forgive others because Christ had delivered them and forgiven them in the same way.

Paul wrote:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

and

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive
(Colossians 3:13).

The nation of Israel had no excuse for treating foreigners poorly, because they had spent centuries being mistreated as foreign slaves in Egypt.

In the same way, we who were once slaves to sin, who have been forgiven, who Christ died for so graciously, have no excuse for not forgiving others.  God overlooked the fact that we didn’t deserve it.  He put aside the issue of whether some would even accept it, and He chose to give grace any way.  So must we.

We model apologizing and forgiveness for my two-year-old, hoping that she’ll learn these principles of grace.  That’s a modeling job we all should be taking on in our homes, at our jobs, with our friends, in our ministries, and in the community.  We show others that we’ve received grace, so we give grace.  We forgive, just as God in Christ forgave us.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King