A blog by Josh Humbert
This was so raw, so forceful, so violent that it would for sure be illegal today. This wasn’t just a hit…it wasn’t just a mere “tackle”…this was a tomahawk missile locked on target and fired by a pair of Nike cleats. This was a hit with the intent to destroy. A collision with something fierce, something mighty.
The 2008 championship game for college football had just begun. Oklahoma, the #1 team, had the highest-scoring offense in the HISTORY of college football. The Sooners got the ball to start and were already looking for a deep pass to get their scoring going.
The quarterback, Sam Bradford, saw a receiver running open down the left sideline; he lofted a pass high in the air. The receiver, Manny Johnson, was tracking the spiral and had his arms ready to catch. But then it happened…THIS happened.
One of the players on the Florida Gators defense, Major Wright, came roaring into the picture. The timing of his arrival was split-second-perfect and he wasn’t coming to make friends.
Major, true to his namesake, delivered the tenacious strike right into the chest of Manny, and dislodged the ball. It was an all-out assault on the idea of offense. It was a clear declaration right at the beginning of the game: you come in here with a record-breaking offense and you think it’s going to be easy to score on us too? FALSE.
It was so much more than just a defensive player breaking up a sure catch. It was so much more than just an “incomplete pass.” It was the establishment of a certain veracity and tone that would indeed carry on throughout the game. The record-breaking Sooner offense would only score 14 points. And they would lose.
The collision changed everything.
What made the Major Wright hit possible was one key element: his pursuit. As a safety, Major is the last line of defense, literally. His job is to make sure nothing gets past him because if it does, it’s going to be a touchdown. So, he had to diagnose the play happening in front of him, see where the pass was going and begin a furious pursuit to the play. If he takes one wrong step, he doesn’t arrive on time. If he waits a split second longer, Manny Johnson catches the ball. His pursuit was absolutely critical.
He is just like us, every day of our lives.
We all pursue something. We are all, for the most part, trying to track what’s happening in our lives and trying to get to where we think “the play” is.
The alarm goes off in the morning and it’s time to pursue, right? You go to class because this degree theoretically helps your pursuit of the “dream job.” You get to the gym in pursuit of health, or maybe just a summer body. You clock in and grind out another day on the job in pursuit of the raise or promotion. You arrive for the date as you pursue “the right one” to spend the rest of your life with. It’s all a pursuit of something bigger, something better.
We all try to line it up, diagnose what steps to take, and arrive to booming success in whatever we pursue.
But our pursuit doesn’t always lead where we think it will.
In an earth-shaking twist that we never see coming, when we arrive at what we’ve been pursuing, it seems that WE are the ones who are being taken down. We are the ones being up-ended.
It’s a collision we never see coming.
Markus Persson knows this all too well. Markus is the inventor of Minecraft, the insanely popular game. Microsoft offered Markuss $2.5 billion dollars for Minecraft. When someone offers you $2.5 billion for the product you’ve made, the answer is “Yes.” #FactsOnly
So Markus had been pursuing success and wealth and he definitely ARRIVED. Surely billions of dollars is worth arriving too. Surely THAT is worth pursuing.
It allowed Markus to buy a Beverly Hills mansion for $70 million, IN CASH. It allowed him to have a 16-car garage with his own car lift. He even has a wall of candy in his house. A wall….of CANDY. Wild parties with Hollywood celebrities ensued. Surely, Markus had arrived to a big hit.
Interestingly enough, here is how Markus himself describes his new life: “The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance…Hanging out with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I’ve never felt more isolated.”
The man had landed his billion dollar fortune and he starts off describing life with two words: “the problem.” This is the sound of a Major-Wright-Reality-Tackle happening.
Perhaps Markus believed (as we almost all do) that pursuing and arriving at amazing wealth would be enough. If he was just a billionaire, then…THEN he would be satisfied. Then he would be on solid ground.
Instead, he is surprised to learn that HE is the one being tackled here. He’s facing problems of basic interaction. He’s never felt more isolated in his entire life. Sadly, you can open up the pages of history and see that many of the most supremely wealthy people in the world have come to the same conclusion as Markus: this pursuit didn’t pay off. People are surprised to learn that their pursuit of a great fortune can actually lead to the fortune itself tackling them.
It’s a collision they don’t see coming. It’s a collision none of us see coming. Markus and wealth are just one example. If you dare to look, you can see that many people spend their lives pursuing stuff or things or possessions or power or relationships that don’t give them what they ultimately want.
There must be another way.
There is a line in the 23rd Psalm that highlights the answer to our pursuits. David writes these words in verse 6: “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
This is the secret to living well. This is the grid for how to view our pursuits. This is how to avoid being surprised by the tackle of reality when we arrive at what we think will bring us lasting joy.
What brings health and wisdom to our pursuits? The realization that God pursues us with His lovingkindness; what the Hebrews would call His “hesed” type of love.
God PURSUES. With LOVE. This changes everything.
One commentator sums it up this way: “The word ‘pursue’ normally describes the action of pillaging armies and covenant curse, but the psalmist is convinced that instead of the covenant curse he deserves, the Lord’s faithful love and goodness will hunt him down relentlessly instead.”
If you are a Christian, if your heart belongs to God, if you love Jesus…I have good and life-changing news: you, yes YOU, are being pursued by God’s hesed-love. Right now. This very moment. He sees where you’ve been, He knows where you are, and He is pursuing You with incredible love. God is hunting you down relentlessly and this will NEVER stop for the rest of eternity.
So, just what kind of love is this hesed?
This word that’s used in Psalm 23 to describe God’s love is one of my favorite Biblical words. It is the Hebrew word hesed. Hesed means: kindness, faithfulness, loyal love, steadfast love in action, God’s covenant love. It really can be summed up by simply saying hesed is God’s UNBREAKABLE love.
So why would He give us that? Why would He pursue His children with unbreakable love? What did we do to deserve that?
The answers is of course, we DO NOT deserve it. For all our vain pursuits of other things, of lesser gods, of false idols — for all our foolish pursuits of the things in this world, we have sinned greatly against God. We deserve to be treated like ones who violated the covenant, not ones who get to enjoy the benefits of it.
Here, we find the Gospel. As one commentator says it: “The fullness of the Lord’s hesed is seen at the Cross: there Jesus Christ Himself – the only One to ever be truly loyal to the Lord and His neighbor in every aspect of life – was treated as the covenant-breaker and cursed for sin so that we who are unfaithful might be clothed in His faithfulness and thus redeemed.”
This is the type of glorious love that is coming after you. This is the depth of unbreakable love that Jesus displayed on Calvary.
The righteous wrath of God toward OUR sin being poured out on perfect, sinless Jesus. The collision of God’s holy justice with God’s outrageous mercy. A collision with something fierce, something mighty.
A collision that changed everything.
When the Lord is your Shepherd, as David began Psalm 23 declaring, then you can know that not only does He lead you by His Word, but He also pursues you with His hesed, His unbreakable love.
If you’re in Christ, then you already posses the best possible thing in all existence and that is the love and embrace of God.
If you know you have this forever then you won’t recklessly pursue the temporary things of this life. You won’t put your hopes in a $2.5 billion dollar fortune to take away loneliness. You won’t give up your family to move up the next step of the corporate ladder. You won’t use relationships to get what you want out of them. You won’t be tackled and flat on your back in complete surprise.
Only when you treasure God’s love that relentlessly pursues you will you be able to know how and what to pursue in this life. Once you know you already have the BEST and most valuable thing ever, you are free from the tyranny of false pursuits. You are safe from the major tackles of despair and isolation when you arrive at what the world thinks is “success.”
It is so much more than just a good doctrine. It is so much more than just a nice word-study on an ancient Hebrew text. This has the power to set the tone for the rest of your life.
Don’t give up – morning is almost here.
Interestingly, the Bible often connects God’s hesed with morning. Just as the sun keeps rising, just as a new day dawns, so should we also freshly remind ourselves that God’s unbreakable love is now and forevermore OURS.
But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your UNBREAKABLE LOVE in the morning, for You have been my Stronghold and a Refuge in the day of my distress.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your UNBREAKABLE LOVE, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your UNBREAKABLE LOVE in the morning and Your faithfulness by night.
Let me hear Your UNBREAKABLE love in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.
The Lord’s UNBREAKABLE LOVE indeed never ceases, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Morning is coming. Dawn is here. The Light of the World is ready to shine, even in the dark places. God’s hesed is yours now and forever, in Christ.
God is happily hunting you down with His unbreakable love that Jesus secured through His innocent blood. He is pursuing you and He is arriving. Let your day begin with a fresh and strong collision with His hesed. May your heart be melted, may it be TACKLED, by the beautiful truth that God’s unbreakable love is coming after you. Then you can rise up and live well.
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