"I'm going to get you!" I threaten as I start to slowly lumber toward her, wiggling my fingers in the air.
The intent is clear - when I catch her, I'm going to tickle her.
"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Chloe screams as she runs away from me. Her short little legs churn as fast as they can. A smile as big as the Texas sky is on her face. She runs and she runs and she runs until ... she stops.
She turns around. She checks to make sure I'm still chasing her. Then she turns around and screams as she continues to run from me. Every couple of feet she stops and checks again.
The scene reminds me of one of those ridiculous horror movies where the killer's walking through the woods, stalking a hysterical girl. If she would just run as fast as she could, there's no way the killer could catch her. She's running and he's walking. Hello?
But the girl keeps slowing down to look behind her to see if he's still there. Oh, and she trips and falls over every root in the forest, while the killer, as sure-footed as a deer, doesn't so much as stumble.
Sorry. I digress.
Chloe loves it when I chase her through the house. She squeals and she laughs, and she begs me not to stop. And when I catch her, you can believe there are plenty of tickles and giggles for both of us.
My pursuit of Chloe is very similar to God's pursuit of us. In the early 1900s, Francis Thompson wrote a poem, "The Hound of Heaven." It's too long to reproduce here, but you can find it on the Internet by doing a search for the title.
The poem describes God's pursuit of Thompson, even as Thompson sought to escape God. As I read it I imagined Thompson running from God, looking over his shoulder every so often to see God still chasing after him. God, in his love for Thompson, would not give up his pursuit.
God, in his love for us, will not give up his pursuit until he has caught us.
How does that make you feel? Special? Loved? Wanted? Or does it fill you with a sense of dread? Worry? Unease?
Some of us, like Chloe, run for a while, but ultimately surrender to our father. I reward Chloe with tickles and kisses once I catch her. God's rewards are much greater. He wants to give us salvation (Romans 10:13), a home in heaven (John 14:1-3) and an abundant life on this earth (John 10:10).
Some of us may still be running to this day.
Can I give you a bit of advice? Stop. Just stop. Stop running from God. Stop trying to get away. God will not give up his pursuit of you. He loves you too much.
All that time you spend running from him now is time wasted. You could be spending that time enjoying the love he wants to shower upon you, instead.
Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville.