“Do you chase girls around the playground?”
I playfully interviewed my seven year old son Liam and his friend Ecclesiastes. They looked down at the cafeteria room floor, nodded slowly, and between some messy slurps of ice cream they each mustered up a shy smile.
“Well, what do you do when you catch one?” I asked. “We put them in jail,” they said boldly. “Then what?” I asked. “They stay in there forever!” Ecclesiastes exclaimed. Then, he paused and said quietly, “But sometimes they escape and chase us.”
I kept my laugh to myself, hoping not to embarrass them too much. Honestly—I must confess—I used to chase girls around the playground in elementary school too. And the few times I actually caught one of these splendid creatures, I didn’t know what to do.
They’re beautiful: so different, so other, so weird, so mysterious. And boys are usually too shy or too mean, because they’re scared of close encounters with them. When a boy brushes up against real beauty, he just reacts. Quite naturally boys chase baseballs, bad guys with swords, bugs-n-beetles galore, but they especially chase beauty. Boys chase girls.
My parents met at a basketball game in a small Texas town when they were thirteen. They dated for eight years, got hitched right after college, and are still married today nearly forty years later. Through uncertainty and dark unhappy times like my Dad’s cancer, they love each other still. They leave a legacy of deep promise and commitment for our entire family.
I used to wonder what my love story would be like. Somewhere around my thirteenth birthday, I thought, “Surely I’ll catch her!” I walked the halls of middle school believing I’d snatch up a wife in seventh grade like my Pops. I was girl crazy—or maybe I was a normal teenager. It’s also possible I watched too many episodes of Saved By The Bell.
The chase is different for every guy. Some need a little nudge. Some need more restraint. Either way, a man’s heart shouts what is true: it is not good for man to be alone. Eve brought such wonder to the earth, especially to Adam.
When I look at my bride of eleven years, I’m in awe. I often think to myself with a glazed-over stare,“Who is this beautiful, enchanting alien? And why am I still so mesmerized by her eyes, her smile, her curves, and her voice?” Men are captivated by simple mysteries like these, which compel the chase onward.
To catch and hold a woman is painfully satisfying. Loving her is both wonderful and difficult. Risky and rich. In a moment of passion, a young man embraces his girl with delight, while anger boils in his veins the next day like a spring thunderstorm. The young Bono penned an authentic love song with an infamous bass line called: With or Without You. Whether you like U2 or not, they tapped into something deeply human about desire: “I can’t live with or without you!” In other words: it’s not good for man to be alone, but sometimes he wishes he were.
From the moment Adam woke up in the garden, there’s been a dull ache in his side that won’t go away. He hopes that Eve will supply some of the remedy to that ache. And women do comfort. They nurture. They can calm. There is something unexplainable that happens when true intimacy stirs. Yet there is more. Beyond the great kisses and warm hugs of romance, there’s something else we yearn for—we are also spiritual beings.
A wilder pursuit reaches for our hearts. A deeper strength stretches out to find our hands. Compared to the cute game on the playground, this chase starts far beyond the furthest star. This pursuit is a heaven-down seeking. It’s unfaltering. There is a great wooing of the Bride no matter the cost. God is chasing us.
His loyal love, which knows no bounds, leaps through darkness and despair. Even when we say we’re done, he’s just getting started. We play the harlot’s music loud. We chase the world. Yet this boy, this God-man named Jesus, chases his church, running through the brambles with bruises, ever seeking our affection.
He isn’t a needy Jesus, pouting to get our attention, and he isn’t a jerkish Jesus, playing-hard-to-get. Courageously, he invites, but never forces our acceptance. The lover of our souls is no selfish monster, like some devilish Mr. Grey. Instead, Jesus releases us to respond as we desire, and reaches out with blood-stained arms saying, “Here’s my love again.”
Nail pierced hands? Now that is love. When the Bride responds, it’s like all of creation sighs. She’s captivated—looking at Him with eyes of passion and true intimacy. From the inside-out she gives her heart to him. A genuine response from the Church to the Bridegroom is on display. This is the alabaster jar broken, the foolish fragrance filling the room, and the harlot’s hair soaked with tears.
Boys will always chase girls, and God will never stop chasing us. Just like I’m still chasing my wife and we’re constantly running after our three boys around the playground, through the house, around the backyard, down trendy Target isles, across Kroger parking lots, down the Third Creek Greenway—okay, so we pretty much chase them everywhere. Ecclesiastes and Liam will probably marry someday, and I’m thrilled at the thought of reminding them about the playground where it all began.