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How to Press In & Pursue

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Have you ever been pursued? Usually as a young person, you’re the one who needs to be pursuing. Pursuing a career, pursuing a mentor, pursuing a love interest. But we figure that it should come naturally to you. I’m seeing that it’s not the case. Young people these days have so many options, the…
By Seth Barnes

Have you ever been pursued? Usually as a young person, you’re the one who needs to be pursuing. Pursuing a career, pursuing a mentor, pursuing a love interest. But we figure that it should come naturally to you.

I’m seeing that it’s not the case. Young people these days have so many options, they struggle to focus and pursue any single option. Many find themselves on the sidelines of life waiting for perfection to arrive or some inner GO signal to flash. And they are still waiting.

It’s interesting to read God using the language of pursuit in the Bible. For example this: “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”  – God speaking through Jeremiah to his people. (Jer. 29:13)

God wants his people to get serious about seeking him. He gives us this amazing world. He wants us to chase with greater tenacity.

If you’re focused on Facebook more than him, he is jealous for your attention. He doesn’t want to be your cheap seconds. He wants you to chase after him like you would a lover.

We use the language of pursuit in our every day language.

“Press in to him,” the counselor said to the young man who wanted a mentor.

“But how?” replied the man she was advising.

“Well, sometimes you just need to pursue someone like him.”

“But I don’t even know what that looks like. How do I press in? How do I pursue?”

How indeed? These words weren’t common in our spiritual vernacular until more recently. They’ve become normalized – you hear them a lot, But what do we mean by them?

Press In

In basketball, a full-court press is a strategy for tightly guarding the guy with the ball as he is in the back court. Pressing someone requires a lot more energy than it does to just fall back and wait for the opposing team to bring the ball into the front court.

Those guarding the ball could be said to be “pressing in.” They stay as close as possible to the person they’re guarding. They focus intently on him. 

When we press in, we’re intentional. In an easy-come, easy-go world, our intentionality communicates, “I care. I am going to stick with you. What you’ve got, I want.”

Young people may need to be taught how to press in. And they can begin by finding the extra energy that pressing in requires. It is not passive; it is work.

We all want intimacy, but intimacy will never happen without pressing in. Intimacy requires focus. It requires extra energy. In a romantic relationship, if we want the person to know we’re attracted, we’ll press in.

Pursue

There comes a point where you’ve pressed in and you’re starting to get noticed. But the person you’re trying to get close to has not reciprocated your attentions. That’s when you shift gears and go into pursuit mode.

Pursuing someone involves disregarding the feedback that may be negative. In the movies, in a chase scene, the person being chased often tries to throw the pursuer of their track. But the pursuer keeps coming.

I remember hearing Andrew Shearman for the first time in 1991 in my Presbyterian church in Florida. It took me almost a decade of pursuit before I was able to build a relationship with him. In a way he was testing my tenacity. Would I continue to pursue a relationship even when my initial efforts bore no fruit.

My wife Karen similarly rebuffed my initial affections. In fact, her response was to get engaged to another man! But that didn’t stop me from pursuing her. I knew she was the one and I was relentless in my pursuit.

God wants us to chase after him in a similar manner. If circumstances turn negative, he wants us to look for him. If God seems especially silent, he wants us to continue asking him questions.

3 Ways to Press In

1. Spend time praying. Pursuit is about activating your intentionality. Just commit yourself to spending more time in prayer and see if it doesn’t pay off in other ways. See if your hunger level doesn’t rise. See if you don’t sense God’s presence more tangibly.

2. Seek first his kingdom. We see a good if/then promise in Matt. 6:33 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Prioritizing God’s agenda right-sizes our affections. As you do so, you better understand why Jesus compared it to a precious pearl or a treasure.

3. Ask for counsel. What do those you respect have to say about your situation? What can the body of Christ contribute? Often we may feel we’re at a dead-end. That’s when we need to turn to others for their advice. We could all use a good challenge and some accountability.

One of the few things we can control in our lives is the way that we express our desire. Why not earnestly seek God and see if he isn’t faithful in his response?

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