A few weeks ago we had a guest preacher at our church and he taught on Immanuel – God with us. It got me thinking about what it means that God is with me. Like, specifically with me. How does knowing God is with me shape and change my life? Sometimes my brain thinks better in lyrics, and as I thought about this question, I thought of the song Chase Me Down by Chris Tomlin and RaeLynn. The song shows the beauty of the gospel – that even when I do the things I know I shouldn’t, when I’m knee-deep in my sin, when I forget who I am in Christ, or when I’m struggling to believe, God chases me down. The chorus says:
You chase me down
When I don’t deserve it
You show me love, You don’t make me earn it
I make a mess, and I just start running
Hoping that You won’t know
Oh, when I’m lost
And I’m low in a place that I think You won’t go
You chase me down
You chase me down.
Too often when I mess up, my instinct is to flee from God instead of running to Him. Satan feeds my heart and mind one lie after another. He tells me there is no way a good, perfect, and holy God could have forgiveness or compassion for someone like me and my guilt and shame trick me into believing I can hide or cover up my sin from God. But the further I run, the more shame and guilt I experience because the truth is, I can’t outrun God. David understood God’s omnipresence when he penned the words in Psalm 139:7-12:
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
The good news of Jesus being Immanuel, is that we don’t have to flee from God with our sin. Instead, we can approach Him with confidence. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
I am not forgotten and left to fend for myself in the midst of my sin. God is with me in my biggest, ugliest mess because of the work of His Son on the cross. Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, we no longer have to be separated from God because of our sin. He has felt our pain and sorrow and has been tempted in the ways we are.
Sometimes, I am like Jonah, fleeing from what God has called me to and hiding, hoping He won’t notice me in my safe, comfortable corner. But Jonah knew that he couldn’t escape God. Even when he was facing death, God’s mercy, grace and salvation found him. Jonah prayed from the belly of the fish, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice…I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God” (Jonah 2:2, 6). Even after Jonah’s disobedience, when he called out to God, God heard him and answered his prayer. Because of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us, we have a Helper and Mediator who is our direct line to our Father. He hears our cries no matter how far we are from Him.
There is so much hope in Psalm 139 and Jonah 2 knowing that God is always with us. Not only does He offer to be with us, but He makes the first move. He comes looking for us, even when we are running away from Him.