I’m going to take a page from Brennan Manning and tell you a little bit about me.
I’m Meg. I’m an alcoholic and drug addict. I was a liar, a thief, a murderer, a prostitute, and adultress. I’m a former atheist, former agnostic, former “believer” in Jesus, and current follower of Jesus. How I got there, why I chose to live there, how I escaped, how I came Home, and the transformation that has occurred is the story of my life … But it’s not the whole story.
I’m a sinner who on her brightest day and during her darkest hour, was passionately, persistently, and feverishly pursued by the Living God. Manning refers to it as “the furious longing of God” and I’m far too unoriginal to challenge a notion so perfect as the one term that is as descriptive as that. It’s because of that “furious longing” that I’m alive and forever dedicated to following the One who never gave up on me, never stopped chasing me.
In our flesh, there’s something so intensely alluring and all-consuming when it comes to “the pursuit”, isn’t there? At least that’s how it’s been in my life. Truth be told, I’ve never done anything halfway. Gradually, I began to develop a reckless pattern in my life, a way of throwing all caution and reason to the wind in my attempt to “live fully”. I remember making a conscious decision right around junior high to live with abandon in the hopes of experiencing a richer, more exciting life, but all that ever did was leave me empty, troubled, broken, and more wounded than I could ever have foreseen.
I know all too much about pursuit. I’ve pursued everything under the sun and paid deeply for it.
My father’s attention
My mother’s approval
I chased them all and did so like there was no tomorrow, because in the grand scheme of things, there really wasn’t. In a life consumed by the pursuit of things, people, pleasure, and a peace and joy that I could never seem to attain, no one told me I had a Pursuer … No one told me that He was chasing me.
Manning writes, “The closer I get to death, the less inclined I am to limit the wisdom and infinity of God”, so even though the Bible doesn’t specifically give the name “Pursuer” to our God, the Scriptures are laden with enough hints and intimations to make this understanding perfectly clear. I know my experiences and relationship with Him are enough to solidify this reality in my heart and mind, but if ever I needed confirmation, I would have to look no further than poet Francis Thompson’s epic work, “Hound of Heaven”.
The first time I read it, I was once again a broken, humbled, and grateful, sobbing before my computer and my Lord, swimming in a sea of painful, ugly, old memories given new life, clarity, and purpose. In words I could never begin to replicate about the years lost to my flight from Christ, Thompson writes:
“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him down the arches of the years.”
Leaving me nothing to reflect upon but my own pursuit of everything but the only real Satisfaction there is, I was horrified, shattered, and broken to realize that I’d spent the better part of my life – EVEN MY CHRISTIAN LIFE – chasing a world and existence that was nothing but disappointing, temporary, barren of purpose, without satisfaction, void of any real contribution, and entirely absent of the joy, peace, love, and fulfillment I’d spent a lifetime longing and looking for. And then the world betrayed me, as it always does.
Thompson brilliantly writes about how the betrayal of everything we pursue leads us to the One we have betrayed … The complexity of this whole notion of our pursuit of Him overwhelms and confuses me, while the absolute simplicity is nothing less than brilliant and reassuring.
God never follows after us with a frustrated, impatient, annoyed spirit that is forever glancing at the clock that never ceases to stop ticking, but instead “with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace.” We have a lifetime in which to come to Him … A lifetime in which we discover, hopefully sooner and in more personal ways, that our purpose is to turn the tables on Him and pursue our Pursuer with passionate abandon. Only in our quest of and for Him will we finally find REAL rest. I absolutely love this paradox!
I am convinced, however, that our pursuit of God has far more reaching consequences and rewards, and it extends far beyond the rest that He promises us in Matthew 11:29. It has everything to do with our ability and capacity to love, forgive, be merciful, patient, compassionate, graceful, seek out justice, and experience joy and peace. We cannot lead if we are unwilling to follow and there is a world out there longing to see and desperately in need of more than the legalism, apathy, and impotence that our unhealed souls have led people to believe our faith, and thus our God, characterizes.
So, I have to ask.
How has He been chasing you?
How have you been responding?
What does your pursuit of our Savior, our Jesus, look like?
Is it relentless, passionate, committed, limitless, intense, all-consuming, fierce, satisfying, focused, and as tireless as His pursuit of us? Does it wake you in the middle of the night and lull you back to sleep in the early hours of the dawn? Perhaps we think this is unattainable in the reality of the grand scheme of life and amidst all of it’s responsibilities, but nothing could be further from the Truth. There is no greater pursuit than that of the One who pursues us.
Through divine appointment Meg and I found each other last year. We were both women with a heart and passion for women working in the sex industry. We have coached each other, encouraged each other and loved each other from a distance. While God brought me The Free2BMe Project, he worked in her and led her to develop Abeni, which means girl prayed for. Abeni, based in Orange County California, exists "to be the face of Christ; sharing His love and coming along side women on their journey; serving them practically, emotionally and spiritually."
To learn more about Meg and Abeni, visit www.abenionline.org
October 7th and 8th, representatives of The Free2BMe Project attended the 7th Annual Human Trafficking, Prostitution, and Sex Work Conference at the University of Toledo. This conference is sponsored by Second Chance Toledo and their founder Dr. Celia Williamson.
We had opportunity to learn much about Human Trafficking, like 12.3 million adults and children are being trafficked. 79% of those are sexually exploited and those numbers have increased 59% since 2008. Human trafficking is a 32 BILLION dollar annual trade.
We attended workshops about how HIV/AIDS can be prevented among those being trafficked, as well as among consenting sex workers. We also learned about the international face of trafficking in places like India and Southeast Asia.
Our friend, Rachelle from Sex Workers for Choice also presented at the conference. It was also awesome to see so many members of the faith-community there - ready to make a difference and to love unconditionally!!!!
There was much to be learned this week! The most powerful part of the entire conference was meeting Survivors of the industry! Women who, in many cases, have been to hell and back again. Women who can say "We all know what we've done, but we can move on from it." Women who able to voice "I don't let my past define me, I let it empower me." Or "We define who we are today, our past doesn't!" And "We desire to be recognized not as just victims & survivors, but as over-comers."