I was eighteen years old. I felt paralyzed in my relationship with God. I knew God was real, but my fancy prayers and daily devotionals were not cutting it. I was doing everything right, but it felt all wrong. Yet I thought I was giving God what He wanted.
I began to question—and this good little Bible-belt girl somehow missed the rules for wrestling with her God. As I surveyed my life, I realized doing all the right things had won me the admiration of everyone but God. And I felt empty and prideful. It was worse than rebellion: being good with no God. It was beginning to occur to me maybe God was after something else.
Maybe I was chasing the wrong things. And then I stumbled across a phrase in 1 Samuel 13. David was “a man after [God’s] own heart” (v. 14). The phrase intrigued me because I knew 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. He lived with an acute awareness of his need for Him.
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.
And, 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.
We gather together to discover the heart of God. I am terrified we get it wrong a lot of the time. We rarely, in our busy lives, stop and see Him, really see Him. We are so busy doing things for Him and for everyone else we altogether miss Him. He wants us.
As we chase after His heart together, we will explore the life of David, a man who knew the heart of God. We will look into their passionate conversations. And whether you are running from God or working your tail off to please Him, David’s journey will challenge your view of God.
The story of David’s life and his prayers fill God’s Word. It’s as if God was saying, When you open My Word, look at this man, look at his prayers, look at his life, look at his mistakes, look at his faith, and you’ll see Me, My heart.
~ Jennie Allen
Getting Started: Chase
After chasing everything the world has to offer, nothing is more satisfying than God.
What Do We Chase?
Tell me how to please God. There are days my mind and heart race anxiously at the thought I may be terribly off track in that sincere pursuit. Most days I want to please God. I believe He is real and I believe a day is coming when I will face Him. I want, more than any other thing, for that day to go rather spectacularly. I don’t want to be shocked when I am looking into the face of the God of the universe to find I actually missed the point.
One of the great fears of my life is that I would get to the end of my life and realize I lived for the wrong things. But there are also the days I forget that all the invisible stuff is real, and pleasing God is far from my thoughts and I just chase whatever I want, whatever seems to feel right in the moment. I seek happiness through friends or food or my kids or the approval of people or wasting minutes on Facebook or catching up on shows on Hulu. There are unending distractions to chase.
And then there are the days when I am not chasing meaningless distractions, I am flat-out running from God, arms full of sin. This study is a story about our God using a man who not only questioned Him but also sinned so atrociously most presentday Christians would avoid him. Yet David at the same time unmistakably possessed the favor of God and chased after His heart in a way that pleased Him. We are going to discover why God’s favor rested on a sinful man.
David was not remarkable apart from God. God moved around him and through him in the most powerful stories. But something about the way David saw God transformed the way he lived. He saw God differently than everyone else around him. He loved God and he lived like he loved God. We are going to study the qualities David possessed as a result of what he believed about his God.
What Pleases the Heart of God?
David began as a shepherd boy and became a king. God chose him, the youngest of his brothers, to be the king of Israel, and ultimately His eternal kingdom was realized through David’s lineage in the birth of Jesus Christ.
We observe that David dealt more intimately with God, the Father, than any other person did in Scripture, except for Jesus Christ. David’s personal prayers were recorded in the Psalms, and in them we get to see a relationship between a sinful man and a perfect God.
What Is the Heart?
As Samuel is about to choose David as the next king, God reminds Samuel, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 6:7, emphasis added). Throughout Scripture God seems to care more about the state of this unseen place in us, our hearts, rather than what everybody else can see in our behavior. While we judge each other by what we can see, God looks deep inside of us to see what nobody else sees. This is the place in us that holds what we love most . . . what we crave . . . what motivates us. This is the place that actually defines who we are.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, our lives are motivated by our hearts. So what we love determines how we live.
My son, Conner, came home from fifth grade one day and told me his teacher was teaching him to pray like David. Curious what that meant, I asked, “How did David pray?” Conner said, “David didn’t tell God what God wanted to hear, he told God what he was really feeling.”
Today let’s start there. Let’s honestly bring our hearts to God and to each other. If any of you are like me, most of the time I don’t have any idea how the deepest parts of me are doing. So just take a minute and pray before you move ahead. Ask God to give you insight to narrow down how you are doing right now.
Don’t leave this first week with fear or guilt; we just need a starting place, enough honesty and self-awareness to know where we are beginning. If today you are just realizing your heart may be offtrack, remember that God has known it well before today. And He is deeply pleased if you recognize it too. I pray these weeks would redefine the way you view God. I pray this time draws you into the most passionate relationship with your Creator. He is so ready to engage our souls.