Genesis 3:9 records a wonderful question posed by God. The context is that of mankind, Adam and Eve, having chosen disobedience. They find themselves in a posture of guilt and shame, now hiding from the presence of God. That great question is, “Where are you?”
We know that God never asks a question to which He does not already know the answer. So, since God already knows where Adam is, the question says more about God than it does about the man who was hiding. Adam fessed up almost immediately saying, “Here I am! I am hiding.”
The question portrays God as One who pursues. He is not happy when humanity is out of touch. In fact we know that God pursues those who run and those who hide. He never gives up, always seeking to redeem and restore lost, broken, damaged, and abandoned relationships. The person who is not “caught” by God escapes His loving grasp only through personal determination and stubborn denial of the need for a personal Savior. Those who escape His call are left to face eternity empty-handed and flat-footed on their day before the pearly gates. It is not His will that they perish. It is only through personal, self determination that they perish.
One name sticks in my mind as a picture of the God of the relentless pursuit. I was called to the lobby one afternoon to speak to a man who was requesting to see me. I asked his name before coming down. The receptionist said, John Sellers. I thought that very interesting since I knew a John Sellers as a graduate of our rehab unit several years earlier.
I did not recognize anyone in the lobby. But there was only one man waiting and he was in a wheelchair. He called me by name and graciously invited an embrace. He asked if I remembered him. Then he began telling me of a changed life, a business that he owns, of his home in El Paso and a picture of his wife, and that he was back in New Orleans for a business conference, and that God was the reason for all of it. I was delighted. I rejoiced with him about the radical change that had occurred. Then I questioned him.
Excuse me but are you the same John Sellers that was in our rehab unit? I am. Who worked in the laundry room to earn your recovery? I am. Who gave us such fits about making people attend chapel services? I am. Who said that he being a staunch, practicing Catholic should not be forced to attend chapel? I am. The same John Sellers that we had to threaten with expulsion if you did not go to chapel? He said, That’s me! The same John Sellers who said, “Well, I will go but it is not right for you to make me. I will go but I will put myself in a trance. I will go but I will not hear anything. He said, “Well yes, that’s me.” I asked, well John, what happened. He responded, “I guess I heard more than I let on. God finally chased me down and did all this for me. I am a blessed man.”
John shared that he had ALS and would not live more than 5 more years. I was able to see John three times before he died. I am so thrilled that he recovered, yes; but absolutely delighted that God continued pursuing my friend until he eventually surrendered and won!
The greatest word in all of scripture is the word, “Come.” It is the prevailing word of God’s invitation. Come is found over and over between those covers. Jesus made it clear that coming is the condition for receiving forgiveness and life eternal. The invitation is from the God who pursues and it is too every person, COME. Stop running. Stop hiding. Today is a great day to get caught.