[Note: Though I've formerly written about this, it bears repeating as a vivid reminder that the God of the universe, who does all he pleases, delights to spend time with us ... even pursue us!]
One Christmas, my in-laws bought me a pair of tan moccasin slippers. You’ve seen them – the kind with a wooly-white lining and leather stitching. I had no idea God intended to use these simple house shoes to overwhelm me with this message: God wants to spend time with me.
Does God Want to Spend Time with Me?
That’s a question worth pondering – after all, he’s big and busy and I’m pretty small. I’m not a head-of-state or a celebrity. Paparazzi don’t wait by my door. There’s no need to count my Twitter followers. So, the question remains: Does God want to spend time with me? In other words, would the God of the universe … want to watch the Super Bowl with me? Or would he prefer my neighbor’s company, where the TV is bigger and the snacks are better? If we knew the answer to the question – does God want to spend time with me? – was Yes!, wouldn’t we have an unstoppable impulse to draw near to him? What could convince us this is God’s heart?
A Pursuing God
For decades I’ve worked with collegians, attempting to convince them that God wants to spend time with them. For his joy, as well as theirs. How would you persuade a college student of this? Better yet, what would persuade your own heart?
The Bible says God loves to pursue his own. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve stiff-arm God, reject his love, and tell him to “take a hike.” Typically, when someone hurts me like this, my impulse is to retreat from them. But not God. He actually pursues his offenders. After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve play “hide and seek” with God … only it was no game. They didn’t want to be found. Nevertheless, God wanted to spend time with them: “The Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Three simple words of seeking. Just as God pursued Adam and Eve, he pursues us. God wants to spend time with us.
In John 4, Jesus initiated a conversation with a woman at a well. She had also been playing “hide and seek” with God. Her checkered past left her in checkmate – that is, checking to see who was her mate-of-the-month. She’d already had four husbands and was working on number five. Not a likely candidate for upstanding-citizen-of-the-year. In the middle of their conversation, Jesus said, “The hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth … for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” Seeking? Yes, God wants to spend time with us.
In corporate America, the triad – Mission, Vision, and Values – is ubiquitous. Until a company’s workers can articulate these, it will flounder. In Luke 19:10, Jesus doesn’t leave us guessing about his Mission: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which is lost.” Seek? Yes, God is pursuing you and me, right now. God wants to spend time with us.
Of course, my collegiate audience will silently assent to these Scriptures, but their level of conviction – that God wants to spend time with them – is subterranean. Until I tell them about … my slippers.
It was nearly 11pm on Thursday night, as I drove home from a busy day on campus. As I slowly drove up the gravel drive of our little house on the cul-de-sac, I noticed the house was completely dark. Lights out meant Paula, Daniel, and Lauren were fast asleep in their beds. I quietly entered our side door, not wanting to wake anyone.
Needing to unwind from the long day, I crept upstairs to our bedroom closet, took off my shoes, and quietly grabbed my slippers. But I ran into a problem. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t get the slippers onto my feet. I was like a one-legged pogo stick, hopping up and down, trying my hardest to execute such a simple task. But the slippers just weren’t interested in gripping my feet!
Confused, I flipped on the closet light and immediately saw the problem. What I saw so overwhelmed me, I had to sit down on the corner of our bed. Earlier that day, my dear young son Daniel was missing me, his Daddy. He wanted to be near me, to be in my presence, to enjoy time together. But of course, I was at the university all day, and wouldn’t be home before bedtime. So, what did Daniel do? His little mind seized on an idea. Daniel went upstairs to his closet and grabbed his little moccasin slippers. Then, he took them to my closet and inserted his little slippers into my big slippers! A perfect fit. And, to his mind, Daniel was able to draw close to his Daddy, to be near him, to be in his presence.
Well, as I sat on the edge of the bed, staring at his little slippers inside of mine, I was overwhelmed with love and affection for my boy! Oh! Oh! How I wanted to be with him! To hold him and hug him and play with him.
Suddenly, it was as though God tapped me on the back: “Dan, how do you think it makes me feel when you attempt to take your little slipper and come to my closet and slip it inside of mine?” In that moment, I was undone. To think that the God of the universe, who doesn’t need me or anyone, would want to spend time with me the way I longed to spend time with Daniel. Too much. I was overwhelmed.
25 years later, I still have those slippers, with Daniel’s inside of mine. I’m looking at them now, on a prominent shelf in my office. They will forever remind me of the lavish privilege we have to spend time with the God of the universe, who loves us more than I love Daniel. We can take our little slipper and put it inside of His, anytime we want, as we open His Word. Yes indeed, God pursues us and wants to spend time with us.