A Relentless Pursuit
THE BACK STORY
It has been seven years since I heard a tall man with a thick southern accent talk about this guy named Jesus like I have never heard it before. I had just moved to Nashville. I wasn’t chasing a music career like many here do, but I was chasing something, anything really. After graduating college, I found myself jobless and clueless. Needless to say, I was not winning. I had successfully added grey hair to the top of my parent’s heads. For all intensive purposes, I was lost. I didn’t know much, but I knew I liked sports, I knew I needed a job, and I knew I needed to move fast. In a moment of despair, I sent out resumes to every sports team that I could find. Opportunity knocked by the Nashville Sounds and I took it. Forgetting the fact that it didn’t actually pay, it was something, which was better than the current state of nothing.
Three weeks later my Dad, bless his heart (as they say here in the South) and I loaded up in my Honda Civic and we made the roughly 2,500 mile journey across the country. At the time I was scared. It was a long way to go to not get paid. I knew a grand total of zero people in the city I would call home. But anxious as I was, I moved forward, and what would begin to unfold would change the course of my life in so many significant ways.
In hindsight, the events of our lives seem to make perfect sense. It is truly amazing how God numbers our steps. He interrupts our plans by placing circumstances and people in our path. A man by the name of Brent High was one such interruption. He entered the scene the first day I started work with the Sounds. He was different than anybody I had ever encountered. He has a way of noticing and calling out the qualities that God has placed in us. He took an interest in me, and every intern for that matter. He cared about who we were and where we were going. He pointed me to a church where that tall man I mentioned above transformed Jesus from a man that I had heard about growing up into a man that loved us, relentlessly and without condition. I made a decision to follow Jesus, and since then it has been quite a journey. It has been a long process tearing down and rebuilding. I’ve got a long way to go, but slowly, it has felt like an awakening.
THE TABLE HAS BEEN SET
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming of ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that one one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:4-10)
Some people get irritated by Paul’s long-windedness throughout the gospels. I think it serves a purpose. He is telling us that we have been given the greatest gift that we never deserved and it’s called GRACE. We have been seated at the table next to the one true King and have been given an all access pass to His mercy, His grace, and His power. The table has been set to the liking of a full page spread straight out of Kinfolk Magazine. The food has been prepared by a master chef. He is pouring out to us the riches of his grace in tangible ways. He lavishes us so much so that we have to share it with the world. It has been prepared in advance and the dishes have been done! In other words, give thanks, eat up, and get to work. It’s not permission, it’s an order.
A RELENTLESS PURSUIT
When we are given permission, we are given the option of backing out. An order is different. It requires action and pursuit. I believe Jesus is real and the things He says are true. But I have backed out as if living it out was an option. Things like fear, guilt and shame have shouted louder than grace, mercy and love. Sound familiar? You see, when Jesus died for us He did so not just to secure our destination but also our destiny. He created the earth and everything it in, but the only thing He created after His own image was us. Woven into our very fibers are our gifts and our talents. They were put there without mistake so that we could live a life that has meaning. But if we don’t first accept that we are who God says we are, we just may miss what He has for us.
I have chosen for too long to believe that God’s grace and power was for everybody but me. I have been wrong. And if you believe that, so have you. This year, I’m I am picking one word to live by and it is RELENTLESS. I’m choosing to believe that my story can be used to help somebody. I’m choosing to believe that the things that make me sad or angry are the things that should propel me to act. I’m choosing to believe that I have a voice that can be used to shape our culture. I’m choosing to believe that on any given day, anything can happen if my posture is one of expectation. I’m choosing to believe that He has the last word in difficult circumstances. I’m choosing to believe that if we are a vessel that we can carry that which is good and points people to truth. I’m choosing to believe that if we are created in God’s image, that we can really love people. I’m choosing these things because God’s word says them to be true. Not because of me, but in spite of me. I can do nothing apart from Christ, but in Him I can do anything. He is my one true strength. He will lift my head when I am discouraged and pick me up when I fall.
It is scary to write these words. Declaring something boldly doesn’t allow for shrinking back. It stirs fear inside of me. Fear that I may sound arrogant or all together crazy. But I created this space to acknowledge that this thing called life is a gift and a journey. I believe we all want to make a difference, but we don’t know how to start from the pieces we have. That we are writing a story with our lives. That we have missed the mark more than we have ever been close to the bullseye, but that we can persevere. That no matter how far we travel, we will never arrive, but we can still keep going. As it says in Epheisians, we are God’s handiwork, created to do good works, which God has prepared in advance. This is only possible His grace so that no one can boast. Breathing that in feels a lot like freedom. It sounds like an order. It is time to live life on a relentless pursuit. Now or never. Who is with me?
**One Word 365 is a community created encouraging you to drop the New Year’s resolutions and to pick just one word to live out. I am joining this community as way to rally others and to stay accountable. What a great way to live intentionally each day as we limit out focus to just one word. Check it out and join with me : http://oneword365.com/
**The tall man with the thick southern accent I mentioned above has a name. David Landrith is the pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN. He is an amazing man of God who I literally owe my life to. He is humble and wise and communities the gospel in such a way that you have no choice but to believe. He and his family could also use your prayers. Last year he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and is undergoing treatment to battle this disease. He has been a gift so so many people. Please join me in praying!