Everybody chases something. Whether it’s a job, attention, or comfort, we all have something that we keep at the forefront of our mind and consider an immovable priority. We put our time and energy into this chase, pouring hours into figuring out how to get a little closer to the goal we have in our heads that will provide for us the feeling of contentment, security or relief that we pine after.
Chasing God is about taking the time to ask ourselves who or what we are pursuing, and deciding to put our time, energy and heart into getting closer to him.
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What drives our chase?
You have given me your shield of victory; your help has made me great.II Samuel 22:36 NLT
When God is at the center of our lives and is the source of our security and worth, we experience a level of confidence and sureness that’s unattainable through human means. When we’re uninterested in God, or are convinced that self-worth is attained via our personal accomplishments or affirmation from other people, then the likely and inevitable outcome will be to view ourselves in one of the following ways:
- Unworthy – our identity gets muddled as we believe our shortcomings mean we are never enough for anyone.
- Inadequate – we lack a sense of purpose as we are tripped up by our failures and unsure of what we’re good at.
- Insignificant – our lack of intimacy with God and other relationships leaves us feeling like we don’t matter to anyone.
These emotions drive our chase, and push us to find something to provide us with a sense of confidence and meaning. Howard Zinn said that “you can’t be neutral on a moving train,” and that sentiment applies here – no one is completely devoid of feelings as life advances around us, and we’re going to take action based on how we deal with those emotions.
If you can relate to feeling unworthy, inadequate or insignificant then you should take time to consider what you’ve been putting most of your energy into pursuing. It’s human nature to seek validation from someone, and it takes spiritual work to train ourselves to seek it from God. Self-worth or self-esteem will quiet these three giants; but if you chase the wrong thing, you will only quiet them temporarily.
I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.Ecclesiastes 1:14 NIV
Picture, for a moment, a person literally chasing after a gust of wind. It’s a ridiculous image and hilarious to think about what a person would look like, arms stretched and waving and he plows headfirst into nothing. God equates this with our empty pursuit of the world: so sure of ourselves and our desired outcome, while unaware of how foolish we look stumbling towards disappointment.
- What have you spent the most time chasing after? Think career advancement, purchases, vacations, attention from family or friends, etc.
- How do you think those pursuits have proven to be meaningless? Is this something you believe?
Take time to survey
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.Ecclesiastes 2:11 NIV
It’s difficult to fully grasp the meaninglessness of the world if we never take time to survey our lives, and embrace the impact those pursuits have had on us. Facing the truth can be challenging, especially if it’s the truth about how devoid of meaning most of what we spend our time doing is. But taking an honest, hard look at where our energy is going and what we’re really getting out of it is necessary if we’re going to make the right choices moving forward, much like Nicholas Cage’s character at the end of Family Man.
- Do you take time to survey your life? To look at your priorities, the impact you’re having, where your energy is going into? What conclusions do you draw?
- How much time with God do you spend each day? How much time is spent reflecting on God and his will for your life, and how much is spent thinking about the things you want to do?
Symptoms of the godless
Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless.Job 8:13
The Bible says that our destiny is decided by whether or not we choose to remember God. Remembering God shouldn’t be a one time event, but rather a continual process of reflecting and seeing the world through a spiritual lens.
Living a life absent of God results in displaying symptoms that affect how we approach every aspect of our day to day lives:
- Fear of man
These emotions are draining, both emotionally and mentally. Making a turn to chase God instead of worldly sources of acknowledgment and affirmation is crucial if we want to live lives free from worldly (and inherently discouraging) pursuits.
Chasing the wind makes us hate life
So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.Ecclesiastes 2:17 NIV
Grievous is defined as “causing or characterized by severe pain, suffering, or sorrow.” The Bible is urging us to understand and believe that making work our primary pursuit will end in disappointment. Just like how Job teaches us that undergoing suffering does not mean we are cursed by God, Solomon shows us wealth and success are not the most important or meaningful outcomes for our lives.
- What parts of your life are you most dissatisfied with today?
- Do you attribute that dissatisfaction to God or your worldly pursuits?
Chasing the wind makes us envious
And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV
Envy is an unavoidable byproduct of chasing worldly ambition. The world and what it offers can never be enough for us (1 John 2:15-17), so after all the anxious striving we are left with only the urge to get more. This will ultimately distort our view of others as we start seeing people as ones who either have more or less than us; farther behind or ahead in life, more talented or less, and so on. This is a brutal cycle as the envy only feeds the selfish ambition, pushing us more towards the world and farther away from God and the peace he offers.
- How has greed, selfish ambition or worldly anxiety affected your relationships?
- Who are some people in your life that you’ve been unable to be close to or help because you envy them?
Chasing the wind leads to agitation
Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.Ecclesiastes 4:6 NIV
Tranquility is a spiritual quality provided to people who chase God. In Philippians 4:11, Paul tells about his ability to “be content whatever the circumstances.” When we chase God, the pursuit fills us with calmness because the closer we get to God the more we realize what’s really important in life. Chasing God leads to chasing intimacy, forgiveness, and confidence, while chasing the world leads to detachment, bitterness and insecurity.
- How do you see you see yourself chasing after the wind today?
- What connection do you see between that chase and stress or unrest you are experiencing?
Chasing the wind makes us feel like we never have enough
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.Ecclesiastes 6:9 NLT
If you’ve spent even 10 minutes watching TV or browsing social media, then you know what it feels like to be constantly bombarded with reminders of what you don’t have. The NIV translation of this passage calls this incessant desire a “roving of the appetite” (Ecclesiastes 6:9 NIV), which is “to travel constantly without a fixed destination.” In other words, our fixation on the things we don’t have will lead us to be perpetually wandering, always in want, never satisfied, and with no clear endgame in sight.
- What are the things you don’t have that you’ve been fixated on?
- What are the ways God has already blessed your life? Do you feel grateful?
- How could your life be different if your attention was focused more on what you have instead of what you don’t have?
Change your passion
My passion is to be consumed with him and not clinging to my own “righteousness” based in keeping the written Law. My “righteousness” will be his, based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ-the very righteousness that comes from God.Philippians 3:9 TPT
We can be passionate for a lot of things, many of which fall under the category of our “own ‘righteousness'” – namely, things that make us feel better about ourselves, which is how Paul described people who use adherence to rules as a means to feel superior or confident. Additionally, it’s common to be consumed with hobbies, vacations, or other means of escape to dampen the elements in our lives that are overwhelming or discouraging.
God wants us to believe that the best way to feel secure, assured and content is to become passionate about being consumed with him. To become people who eat, sleep and breath the Scriptures, similar to the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 119. And just like with any hobby or profession, we can choose what we are passionate about. Simply making the decision to spend more time praying, reading the Bible and trying to obey it will yield incredible results in your life, and in the lives of those around you (1 Timothy 4:15-16). Unlike with chasing the world, you will never be left disappointed when you decide to chase God.
- Are you passionate about being consumed with God?
- What chases do you need to let go of in order to make God your primary desire?
- What changes in your life do you need to make in order to spend quality time with God?
- What would it look like to give God your best?