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A Pursuing God

Joshua Ryan Butler's A Pursuing God has just been released, and it contains a number of quite beautiful moments in its explanation of how God is pursuing us. One story in particular, which Josh uses to illustrate the depth of the love of God for his children, and which I suspect will appear in more than a few sermons in the next few months, moved me to tears:

How might we be shaped by God’s reckless love? What does it mean to be formed by the Father’s extravagant embrace? When I think of that, I think of Misha’s story. Jim and Sarah welcomed Misha into their home when they decided to become foster parents. Misha was only a teenager, but she’d seen a lot: abandoned by her family, trafficked into the sex trade, and exploited for sex and money.

Jim and Sarah’s first few days with Misha were great, but once that honey moon period ended, everything became a struggle. Misha punched, kicked, screamed, fought, yelled, and threw things. Jim and Sarah bent over backward to make her comfortable, but the first few months felt as though they’d welcomed a cyclone into their home.

Sarah found it especially difficult. Misha paid loads of attention to Jim, lavishing praise and affection his way (this was how she’d learned to get attention from men). Even though Jim didn’t reciprocate, it was hard for Sarah to watch. Misha even turned quickly to calling him “Dad.” In contrast, she treated Sarah cruelly: shouting, blaming, ignoring, cursing, and calling her a barrage of names ...

“Mom” wasn’t one of them.

So after six months Jim and Sarah needed a break. They got a babysitter, dressed to the nines, and hit the town for the evening. They returned feeling rested and refreshed, having had a little space to just be a couple again and care for their marriage. The babysitter welcomed them at the front door and said everything went great. Misha had been pleasant all evening and was fast asleep.

Relieved, they went upstairs to get ready for bed. Jim walked into the master bathroom and let out a shocked, “Oh no! Sarah, don’t come in here. You don’t want to see this.” He scrambled to gather cleaning supplies and deal with the mess before she got there, but it was too late.

Curious, Sarah charged into the bathroom and quickly discovered what all the fuss was about. Misha had taken Sarah’s red lipstick and scrawled in massive letters all across the bathroom mirror and walls: “F*** you, Mom! F*** you, Mom! F*** you, Mom!” Jim’s thoughts were racing: Should we have stayed home? Did Misha think we abandoned her? How is Sarah going to survive this?

He turned to Sarah and saw, surprisingly, that she began to laugh. Not a little laugh. Not a chuckle. But a slow and building roar.

It began as a rumble deep within, rising steadily up through her chest, until finally her mouth opened, the dam broke, and she roared hysterically. Sarah crumpled into a ball on the floor, a waterfall of tears streaming down her face, laughing as she’d never laughed before.

Jim was shocked, perplexed, and silent for a few moments. Has she gone crazy? Lost it? Was this the straw that broke the camel’s back? Finally finding the words, he asked, “What is so funny!?!” Sarah peered out through tears of joy, fighting for breath, until finally, between the convulsions, she was able to squeeze out, “She called me Mom.”

You can get Josh’s book here.

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