Ready or Not, Here I Come
By Jody Griffin
Avery and Mitchell County
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.” (Luke 15:4-5)
Remember playing the game Hide and Go Seek as a child? (Of course, you do!) One person was designated the searcher while the rest of the kids would scatter. The ‘searcher’ would then count to a designated number like 10 (I always liked it when they counted to 25 as 25 enabled certain chubby little guys to find ample space to camouflage.) As the searcher counted upward, the panic would arise, and then those dreaded words from the ‘searcher’s’ mouth to my ears. “READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!”
The thrill would be listening as the ‘searcher’ approached and as I tried to be perfectly still to avoid detection. A more skillful hider could sometimes go completely overlooked. But as a less adept hider, I would soon find myself discovered and in a mad race to a “safe zone” where I hoped to arrive before feeling the searcher’s tag.
It’s a juvenile game played out many times a day by adults who fail to recognize that they are living their lives in some seriously sad attempts to evade discovery by God. God loves us and pursues us with a relentless Passion. Many people live in fear that God’s pursuit is “God out to get them and punish them”. They live in mortal terror of God’s judgment.
But God is not in pursuit of anyone for that purpose! God is seeking to capture our attention and to embrace us with Compassion, Care, and Comfort. God pursues us for the purpose of redemption! God pursues us in order to bring every person into the ultimate safe zone, the Loving Containment of Grace.
Life within the boundaries of this Loving Containment is secure and peaceful. It is a Place described by King David as being ‘beside the still waters’ (Ps. 23:4).
The Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is in pursuit of EVERY person, every day. Few people fully grasp this incredible message…
Prison can often be God’s tool used to bring someone to a clear understanding of the purpose behind God’s pursuit. Being caught up in the containment of a correctional facility can provide offenders an opportunity to consider the fruitless energy expended in running away from God. Some become aware of God’s desire to capture them and bring them into the “fold”. These are men who experience the thrill that comes in realizing the Joy their Master takes in their being found.
The Chaplain often is privileged to witness the beauty of an offender’s Epiphany to this Truth of the Great Love of God. And what an honor it is to see the fearful wanderer carried Home on the strong and able shoulders of Jesus! It brings the truest meaning to the words, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Please pray that 2021 will be a year of spiritual Awakening to the Truth of God’s Passionate pursuit of us all…and pray that CoVid will soon be a thing of the past, that our wonderful volunteers might soon return and that we might find some sense of “normal” opportunities for religious programming. Thank You and may God Bless you for your prayers and support!
Jody Griffin is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Spruce Pine and Community Funded Chaplin at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Institution. If you would like more information contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more good Christian news from Jody HERE.