My babies love to play a game they made up called Dirty Rat (don’t ask where they got that term or how they made up the game! I have no idea!), in which one person is the dirty rat and chases the others. Basically, it’s Tag. But it’s their own silly little version, and they chase each other laughing and laughing and saying, Get away, Dirty Rat!
When Papa plays, he’s always the dirty rat. He doesn’t mind. The children scramble around as he reaches for them with his long, strong arms, dodging him and imagining that they are actually faster than he is. Aaron laughs as he chases them calling, Here comes the Dirty Rat!! Eventually, he always catches them, scooping them up and covering them with kisses as they laugh and laugh.
I love watching this game, seeing my loves enjoying each other. And I can’t help but notice the parallels between this earthly father chasing his children and how our heavenly Father pursues us. Except in the spiritualized version, we are the dirty rats! Ha!
I know in my dirty rat story, I wasn’t interested in God—he didn’t seem like the kind of God I wanted to hang out with or be associated with. I spent a great portion of my 20s doing whatever I wanted to do—living the wild life! Although, admittedly I wasn’t all that wild. But that didn’t matter; what mattered to me was that I didn’t feel obligated to God or anyone else I didn’t want to be obligated to.
And yet, he pursued me. He chased the dirty rat.
So many people reached out to me during those years, loving me, helping me, providing for me. I was grateful and glad to be loved by them, but I wouldn’t let my heart make the connection to Jesus—that he maybe was the reason others loved me so well. You can probably guess the next part of the story: after years and years of doing my thing, pursuing my definition of happiness, trying to make my dreams come true, I was exhausted. I was confused. Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life and I certainly wasn’t who I wanted to be.
On a whim, I picked up a book someone had given me. To this day I don’t know why I opened that book except that I was so desperate I must have thought I might find an answer. Anyway, the first sentence of the book was, It’s not all about you. I fell to my knees. How had I grown up in a Christian home and never realized that? Maybe I was just that selfish that the message of Grace had fallen on deaf ears. I found such relief in that one simple sentence. It gave me the freedom to look out of myself, to stop obsessing about myself, to stop serving and trying to please myself.
It gave me the freedom to rest. It drove me straight to God’s waiting arms. And I realized that he had been pursuing me since the day I was born.
Even though that day of falling to my knees was many years ago now, I can see it vividly in my mind. I love to remember that day, remember how humbled I was and what a light bulb moment it was to realize that life is about something bigger and greater than I. And that the orchestrator of this life, who is working redemption in our broken world, has chosen to love me; furthermore, he has worked to convince me of his love!
As I watch Aaron play Dirty Rat with the babies, chasing them with delight, eager to scoop them in his arms and lavish them with love, I imagine God’s delight in pursuing us—he doesn’t feel a frustrated, eye-rolling obligation to his children; instead, he is eager to show us his love, to heal our wounds, to draw us close into his embrace, to redeem our broken stories.
How is God pursuing you today? Who has he put in your life to reveal his love to you? What graces have you met today that are evidence of his love? Has he asked you to be an instrument of love and pursuit in someone else’s life? Who can you move toward today in grace and love?