love that hunts us like the fugitive | John 10.14-18
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10.14-18 | ESV
“But that’s not what I’m going to do. I am the shepherd, the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me – just like Abba knows me and I know Abba. And what is the upshot of all this knowing? My life…being laid down…for the sheep. And I’m not just talking this little chosen flock in this little sheep-keep. I have more. A lot more. And I’m bringing them too. I have to. All my sheep together, all responding to my voice, one flock, one shepherd. And what is my claim to Abba’s affections? Laying down my life – so I can take it right up again. No one takes my life from me – it’s not the initiative of the predator/bandit that determines the outcome here – it’s my decision, my initiative to lay down my own life. I have the empowered freedom to lay it all down, and the freedom to take it right back again – when I’m good and ready, and my Abba says the word.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Alright, listen up, people. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive’s name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.
Tommy Lee Jones.
Deputy Marshal Gerard.
Love the film. Love the role. Love the intense blood hound passion of Gerard on display in this classic scene.
We often recite the final line of Psalm 23 with a sweet lilting tone perhaps envisioning God’s love as a warm puppy that follows along after us, all the time, there it is. Such a cute, comforting sentiment we sure hope is true.
But if God’s love is a dog it’s a full grown bloodhound named Gerard. Or Javert.
David’s word in Psalm 23 is really better served by English verbal handles like “pursue” “chase” “track down” and “hunt.” It’s the word used for what Saul did to David all those years in the wilderness. He hunted him like a hound. He chased him all over the Judean desert,
“over hill, over dale.”
It was a “hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse.” The memory vivid in his heart, David says, “Yeah, that what’s God’s goodness and mercy does. It hunts me. Every day of my life. And unlike with Saul, I can run, but I can’t hide.”
How tragically ironic that we spend our lives longing for, chasing after, trying to earn, trying to merit, trying to find the love, mercy, and kindness of God – when it – he – pursues us. We are his ultimate hard-target search.
So convinced of our ugliness; so pursued by beauty.
And he is relentless.
Relentless Gerard God.
And while we might grant such relentless, passionate love to Jesus, we often still have doubts about a God we see more as a malevolent, pursuing Saul with spear in hand, Jesus won’t let us. He brings God, his Abba, right into the picture.
This is his Abba’s heart.
This is his charge.
This is his love, his idea.
He is our fierce protector – “Oh yeah, just try snatching my sheep away from me! You think David was bad when he grabbed that lion by the beard and beat it to death with his club?
You haven’t seen anything yet!”
He’s the one sending his Boy out over the horizon to gather all those other sheep – and he wants them all.
Passionate, bloodhound Gerard God mercilessly pursuing us in his mercy and goodness.
If we only had an inkling of this.
How it might change everything…
How have you experienced the pursuit of God, the pursuit of his “beauty and goodness” in your life?
Good Shepherd, remind me today that it is not I that chase after your elusive love, but your love that chases after the ever elusive me. Revive my drooping head. Open my eyes to see the cup brimming over with blessings right in front of me. Through Jesus.