Have you ever read something in the Bible that made you wonder why it was ever included? Consider the story of the prophet Hosea: God tells him to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:2).
So Hosea marries Gomer, who has a wandering eye—and body. She continually runs from Hosea, who continually pursues her and brings her back into relationship with him.
I don't know if you've been lucky enough to hear a sermon on or to study the book of Hosea, but it really is a beautiful picture of grace—well, beautiful might not be the right word. Hosea's relationship with Gomer is an illustration for God's relationship with us. Just like Gomer, we've gone astray. And the fact is that just as Hosea pursues Gomer regardless of who she is or what she does, God continually pursues us, seeking a relationship.
So the story of Hosea really is a great story about God's grace and love for us.
Blah blah blah.
Hosea and Gomer's story is a touching one—unless you've heard it so many times before, it starts to feel stale. And that's exactly how I was feeling. After all, I'd been following Christ for 11 years. I already had a relationship with God. I wasn't Gomer.
So as my pastor spoke on Hosea two weeks ago, I settled in for a sermon I'd heard many times before. You know how it goes: God wants to be in relationship with you. So much that he sent his Son who died a terrible death. And there's nothing you can do to earn the grace he's offering; you simply have to accept it.
But that wasn't the sermon.
Instead, the pastor spoke about how God continues to passionately pursue us—even after we start following him.
We need to be continually pursued. Because each time we sin, we are just like Gomer, leaving our Husband in search of something better. But just as Hosea didn't stop pursuing Gomer once they were married, God doesn't stop pursuing us once we've entered into a relationship with him.
The true beauty of the story is that God continues to pursue us, love us, cherish us, and seek a deeper relationship with us—even when we, people already committed to following him, continually mess up, choosing other things over him.
As the sermon came to a close, I wept. Here was God making sure I knew that he was pursuing me, that he desires my whole heart—and he desires that I choose him over and over again each day. God didn't stop pursuing me when I started following him. Instead, that was simply when I decided to reciprocate the pursuit.
Realizing that God is still in pursuit of my heart 11 years after I first committed to him brought new life to my pursuit of him—something I desperately needed.
It's just like marriage. I don't expect my relationship with my husband to look the same on our 35th anniversary as it did on our wedding day. I expect that our love will be deeper, our trust fuller, our relationship more interconnected than ever. And that's because of our mutual pursuit of each other.
How much more do you want to pursue your spouse when you know he's pursuing you? In marriage, too, we must choose our spouse day after day, renewing our vows in our hearts with each sunrise.
I'm so thankful for this reminder that life with God extends beyond his initial pursuit of us—it's an ongoing mutual pursuit in an ever-deepening relationship. It's in this light that pursuing God feels less like an obligation and more like answering a love letter.
When have you experienced God pursuing you? How does his pursuit of you make you feel?
Amy Jackson is managing editor for SmallGroups.com and ChristianBibleStudies.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKJackson.