You’ll Never Regret the Pursuit for More

As I sat in my tiny apartment, tears ran down my hopeless cheeks. My freshly washed, yard sale pot and pan sat upside down draining on my twenty-five cent Goodwill dish rag. I had just tucked my eight-year-old daughter into bed, plopped like a deflated balloon onto a kitchen chair and cried. Is this all you have God? Is this the hope filled promise that I hear others talk about? I don’t want this either. I was starting my life over with nothing but a promise, lamenting to the Lord, when a piercing thought shattered my loathing. “If You give Me the same amount of time that you gave the enemy, I will never be outdone.” In that moment, I knew God had more, but His promise was not going to come easy. The process would take intentional and deliberate time. I decided that I would dig my heels in, come what may, and fight for a new life, a new me.

What if a pursuit could change your destiny?  What if one small step every day toward a new direction, a new habit, a new resolve could literally be the shift you need to redirect your course?

I know all about trying my best to create new habits and behaviors. For nearly six years I was sold into an underground world of human trafficking before God saved me. I was branded, brainwashed and abused. And yet, in the midst of my sin and in the depths of my despair, God saw fit to pursue me. He took me out of the muck and the mire and set my feet on solid ground, steadied me as I walked along (Psalm 40 paraphrase).

Steadied me as I walked along. That means it wasn’t instant, it wasn’t immediate, it wasn’t fast, and I still have to work at it daily. Changing character and deeply engrained habits from sin and modeled unhealthy behaviors takes time and effort. It takes looking that thing in the eye that you want to fix and going after it, wrangling it down even. Another word for pursuit is HUNT. It speaks of chasing it down — to run it down, to take up, to track, to seek, to stalk, to follow after. It’s a word that speaks of fierce hostility, tenacity and force to overtake, to slay.

I heard someone once say, “you can never go too deep with God.” We cannot get to a place in our walk where we think we’ve mined all we can out of the Word of God. He wants us to pursue Him and His Word, dive deeper, hunt for what He has and who He is, a little longer each day, each week, each circumstance.

As we stay the course for a new resolve in this next decade, many of us have started the year with a “word for the year.” I have approached this tradition each January and it’s been great to use as a barometer throughout the year. Once, I felt the Lord impress upon my spirit “inhale.” I knew He was calling me to focus on taking a breath and to build internally within my non-profit that fights human trafficking in the U.S. Last year, I heard “strengthen” and knew deep down that it was intended to focus on strengthening my family in 2019 for all that God wanted to birth in 2020. This year my friend told me her word was “believe” and I immediately went and bought her a necklace that said believe. My other friend got “resurrection” and we talked about doing a word study to let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts on what our words means to us.

I’m guessing you may have a word that God has stirred in your spirit too. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard about this intentional way to press more deeply to Jesus with intention. Wherever you are, I want to invite you into something special this year: Pursuit.

Take Inventory of what you NEED

Psalms 34:14 is a great reminder of God’s directive to pursue.

Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. — ESV

Pursuit isn’t just about going after more or increase. Pursuit can be about finding more rest, more space, more peace. Take some time to lean in and take inventory of what you need in this season.

How can a young person live a clean life?
By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.[1]

What road signs has God posted for you that you need to pay a bit more attention to? Start by simply jotting down the first word that comes to mind. Then close your eyes and imagine how your heart could feel if you had more of it. Fill in the blank with YOUR word for the year and let’s not tip toe into what’s next. Let’s hunt it down and overtake what God has.

PURSUE REST
PURSUE HOPE
PURSUE BELIEF
PURSUE DESTINY
PURSUE KINDNESS
PURSUE SELF-CONTROL
PURSUE ___________________
YOU DECIDE.

What are you practicing?

It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself — Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration. — John 4:23-24[2]

Whatever we practice gets stronger. That’s how our physical muscles work, but that too is how our spiritual muscles can work. If we practice gossip, it gets stronger. If we practice being critical it grows and spreads. BUT if we practice biting our tongue and using self-control, that fruit will ripen. If we practice kindness and grace, that too will strengthen.

Creating new habits in our lives is being honest with ourselves and with God – being “honestly ourselves” and identifying the areas we need to get stronger in.

What is holding you back? Fear? Shame? Lies about yourself you’ve believed. When I started my journey toward true freedom, I had nothing. No money, no social capital, I knew no one. I slept on couches and got on food stamps and kept relying on Him.

What are you practicing and what is holding you back? Put in the workout to strengthen what you need and pursue healing in the areas that you need to overcome. If you really want all that God has for you, if you want every promise that He’s gently whispered years ago, and you haven’t yet seen. This is your year to pursue hope, to pursue renewal of dreams, to pursue more.

You can choose to do things like you’ve always done, or you can choose to pursue God like never before.

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[1] Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Ps 119:9–10). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

[2] Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Jn 4:23–24). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.

Written for Faith.Full by Rebecca Bender, author of In Pursuit of Love.

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Your Turn

What are you pursuing this year? Building our spiritual muscles and changing habits takes daily practice, a change of mindset. Let’s pursue God like never before and watch His promises come to fulfillment! Share your thoughts on pursuit on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

Rebecca Bender

After escaping nearly six years of human trafficking, Rebecca Bender received the kind of restoration that only God provides. Now an award-winning social entrepreneur, she is the CEO & Founder of the Rebecca Bender Initiative, a nonprofit that works with law enforcement, FBI, Homeland Security, and aftercare programs and provides expert testimony, trainings, and consultation across the globe. She is also the founder of Elevate Academy, an online school for women who want to pursue the call of God regardless of their pasts. Rebecca has earned her Masters in Christian Thought from Bethel Seminary and enjoys influencing culture by teaching biblical truths for various audiences. Rebecca and her husband, Matt, live in the Pacific Northwest with their four daughters.

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