The Relentlessness of God

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Francis Thompson’s majestic poem, The Hound of Heaven speaks of the relentlessness of God – the one who pursues even as we try to outrun Him.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet— ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.
(Francis Thompson – The Hound Of Heaven, 1893)

Upon first reading it seems a shocking and degrading evaluation of God as He is cast as the one who follows rather than the one who leads, and yet as I reflect on Scripture I cannot escape this conclusion: that the whole Biblical narrative is about the God who is completely committed, totally focused, indeed fixated with reconciliation.
And it’s true in my own faith story, too. I can now see how the Lord was gently but relentlessly pursuing me until that moment when His great love overwhelmed me like a tsunami. And I’m humbled.
Pause a moment to contemplate your own faith story; consider the influence of friends or family over the years. Think about who shared the story of God’s great love with you and how many times you had to hear it until it finally ‘clicked’.
Now consider the seven billion people on earth, a full one-third of whom have never heard the story and don’t have anyone who can share it with them in their heart language. That’s 2.3 billion people.
And yet the Lord is also pursuing these men, women and children. Relentlessly. And he’s doing this primarily through Christians – people who love him and want to share the great news. Just like you and your church.
Global Interaction has recently released a new resource in order to fuel the desire for and commitment to God’s Global Mission, called MOVED. It’s a brilliant and inspiring tool for helping mobilise individuals and churches in mission.
Here are a few tips for utilising it.

  • Set aside one month where the WHOLE Church – kids, youth, home groups and Church services, focuses on issues relating to mission. This helps us recognise that we all play our part in God’s story; it’s not just for the cross-cultural workers.
  • Play the DVDs in church and follow them up with the sermon (notes and illustrations are available). At the conclusion of the sermon, have an open (or small group) forum reflecting through the issues raised, with the key question of ‘What now?’
  • Check the census data for your local area. How many different ethnicities are present in your community? How visible are they? How many religions are present in your community? How present are they?
  • The children’s and youth programs can also dovetail with the adult service. Ask some of your young people to share what they discovered and the action points they have decided upon during the fourth week of the series.
  • Gather the data and action points and determine a church strategy for mission with goals and accountabilities and a review date. This keeps mission on the agenda.
  • Ask anyone who has served in cross-cultural mission or has been a part of an overseas short-term team to stand at a point during the service – you may be surprised!
  • Contact Global Interaction and lock in a time for one of our staff to come and share with you the great things that God is doing in mission around the world.
  • Pray! Pray! Pray!

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