Three years ago, my husband and I began the long journey of adopting our son, Cooper, from Rwanda. It was a lengthy, costly journey to fill that bed with our child. In May of 2011, a picture showed up in our inbox. It was the first sight of our son. It was one of the best days of our lives, because for a year and a half we had been fighting to get this child. And on that day he was finally ours.
For nearly four years that little boy watched almost every one of his friends leave with moms and dads, but no one came for him. The day I saw the picture I wondered if he knew—I wondered if he knew he finally had a mom and a dad—that he finally had a family.
I knew God had a plan for this boy from before he was born. Much like another man I’ve been studying a lot about lately.
In the Bible, David was a wild, passionate warrior king, whose own messy story I had heard and whose psalms I had read a thousand times, but when I began to look a bit more closely at the life of this man, something about the way he related to God just blew me away. Yes, David committed murder and adultery—he was no missionary or priest. I saw this man as both completely sold out for God and completely broken. He was in love with God, and he lived with an acute awareness of his need for Him. His view of God was so big. David actually believed God was real and he lived like it.
The closer I have gotten to the life of this man, David, the more my ideas of what God wants from me have been shattered. David had one life and two eyes and one heart, just like me, but they were all laser-focused on the heart of his God…my God. David was in love with Him.
Yes, David sinned and wrestled, just like me. But while he was not so concerned about appearing godly, he was terribly concerned about knowing God. He was a man who saw past his circumstances, past himself, past this life to the heart of God. David chased after God’s heart. And I think as a generation of women, we are longing to do the same.
Unfortunately, we all are chasing things other than God. But when you look into the life of someone chasing God Himself, God alone, you start craving Him too. I want a life like David’s, brave and dependent and full of worship. He had a relationship with God unlike any other in the Scripture and, honestly, unlike any other I’ve ever seen. I want to know God like he did. I want to trust God like he did.
The reason David was a man after God’s own heart wasn’t because he was perfect. The reason he was a man after God’s own heart is that he always came back. His desire to return to God was always greater than his desire to run away. David spent his life chasing God. He was defined by God and he lived courageously and obedient. He feared God more than people. He believed and followed God even when the cost was great. And when he messed up, he ran back to God. He is an imperfect example of a person who really went after God.
But God was real to David because God made himself real to David. See, the beauty of the gospel is not that we have to do a whole list of things to do in order to get back to God every new day we get up. To feel like we have to strive everyday—that’s not good news. That’s a life that never fulfills us and we never quite measure up. But God has chased us down through Jesus.
The gospel does not teach a religion that says, “When you feel distant from God, do these things, and you will feel better.” The gospel says, “When you feel distant from God, someone else has already made the solution for you”—this is what Jesus did.
Ephesians 1:4-5 Paul says, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”
I found out later that in that first picture of Cooper we were sent, that he didn’t know he had been adopted into our family. In fact, the day he met us he still didn’t know. After we left, they told him, “That was your new mom and dad.” Everything was legal for weeks before he knew. He was ours but he had no idea it was settled and done. And some days he still is getting his head that we are his forever—that we are his parents. It’s too much to take in.
In the same way, we were chosen by God—adopted forever, children of the living God. It can be too much to take in, too much to get our head around. So most of the time we live like it’s not all true.
Above all, God wants us—he wants us to love him so completely. And the only right response of a people who have been chased down, like David, is that we start chasing after the things he chases after. We chase after Him.
We are Cooper’s mom and dad, and he still has to get his head around that. It is done. It’s completely true. It is not going to change. And if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your sins are forgiven, and you are in relationship with God. But do you have your head around that today? He is going to keep growing it more and more. And day after day, he is continually hunting you down until you know it in the depths of your being.
Cooper is honestly a mess—he is a busy 5-year-old boy who was raised in an orphanage. He gets in trouble and needs more parenting than my other kids all put together, but I adore him. He is my son. No matter how imperfect he is, it will never change the fact that I am his and he is mine and that I love him so much that I can’t stand it. We traveled across an ocean and emptied our savings account because we had to get our boy. It’s a great story.
But God wrote an eternal story where he suffered and died. He reached through heaven and hell and made a space in us. He wrote eternity into our hearts so we would remember what we were made for—we were made for him. God chased us down.