The God Who Chases (My God Story)




I am not a spiritual person.

Pretty cool way to start my faith story right? Well, hang in there. There is a reason why I start with this. But before I explain, let me back track a bit to the good ol' days. I was born in Belleville, NJ on November 21, 1984. My parents, Vilma and Guillermo Torres, are both from the Island of Puerto Rico so, as can be imagined, I went to school, ate arroz con habichuelas (rice and beans) almost every day, and attended a latino Adventist church in the city of Newark (yeah, I'm from Newark).


Back in my day Newark was known as one of the worst cities in Jersey (not sure if it still is). Gangs ran the streets. Prostitutes, drugs, violence and vandalism were everywhere. And it’s common for kids growing up there to end up involved in some of this noise. Somehow I never did. But its not because I'm spiritual or something. Remember, I'm not a spiritual person.

Being from a Christian family I had a pretty good idea of what the right path was but I also lived with the self-awareness, even from a young age, that I wasn't naturally drawn to that path. I tried lots of things to fix that. I read the Bible more. Prayed more. Memorized scripture. Did the will power thing. I even got myself a Giga-Pet (they were pretty cool back then) thinking that maybe if I just stayed busy I wouldn’t have time to do the negative things that took me away from the path. But it never really worked long term.

It was during these years that I began to put God in the back burner. Sure, I still found the Bible interesting, had enough of a moral compass to stay out of serious trouble and had nothing against God per-se, but I simply found little interest in the surrendered-to-God life. I was happy to keep him within eye distance, but I wasn't looking to go all out. I just wasn't that interested.

Then came my junior and senior years in high-school when I found myself having to choose between God and a relationship. That was the first time in my life where I found myself at a cross roads. Either I followed God or I went my own way for good. I wish I could say I did the right thing, but I didn't. I didn’t choose God at all. I tried, but I failed. I just wasn’t spiritual enough. But something weird happened. I didn't have peace. My heart was in a strange place. And it didn't make any sense because I wasn't interested in God. So why was I all of a sudden so uncomfortable with choosing to walk away from him? I didn't know it at the time, but God was on the pursuit. The relationship did end, but it wasn't my doing. And to this day I consider that to have been a God thing. God knew I wasn’t strong enough to make the right choice so he stepped in. He had been chasing me all along and now he had me cornered. I felt like it was the end of the world at the time, but the truth is God had just brought me to my starting point. He brought me to a place where I had to make an active choice I was hoping to avoid. And by his Spirits leading, I chose to follow him. And I have never looked back.

Today, when I think about the people in my life I realize that many have chosen human relationships over God. In nearly every case the story is the same. Got their girl pregnant or ended up taking steps away from God and got stuck for the next ten or more years trying to sort out the mess they created. I was nearly there. I didn't realize it at the time. But the reason why I didn't have peace even though I wasn't interested in God is because God was interested in me. He was chasing me. Pursuing me relentlessly wanting to deliver me from a path of sorrow and regret. He was tugging at a heart that wanted nothing to do with him. And in the end, he won.

Shortly after the breakup I thought, If I am going to miss out for God then I might as well do something other than warm chairs at church. So I started getting to know God and telling others about him at gatherings and worship spaces. As a result I met Jesus, not in some single magical moment, but gradually and for the first time in my life. From there, God sprung me into a wild and awesome life. I joined the Army, lived in Hawaii, played in a worship band, graduated from university, made some of the most amazing friends and memories, and experienced adventure and excitement I couldn't have imagined. I also met the girl of my dreams, whom I have been with now for ten years. We live in Australia where I work as a full time pastor, have two awesome kids and some pretty fresh plans for the future. If I'm honest though, none of this is because of or about me. I wasn’t interested in God. I wasn’t looking for God. God came looking for me. I am not spiritual. I never have been. And as I stood on a stage to speak for the first time, traveled across the world to tell others about Jesus and sat down to write this story its only because God is a god who chases. He chased me until he caught me.

I have learned throughout my life that God comes after us, not because we are found, but because we are lost. He calls out to us not because we are perfect, but because we are sinners. And as I look at every significant moment of my life in the past three decades, I can see one consistent pattern – God chasing me. Each and every time I have made a significant step in the spiritual journey it has been because God initiated the search. Not me. If God had never chased me, I would never (and I mean never) have looked for him.

I never want anyone to look at “Pastor Marcos” and wish they were as spiritual as I am or that their marriage was as perfect as mine is. I’m not spiritual. My marriage is not perfect. And my kids are not perfect.  I don’t have what it takes to be a Christian. I don’t have the strength to be faithful. My only hope is Jesus. Even today I have a hard time reading my Bible and praying. I have to force myself to do it sometimes and it’s so easy and natural for me to just skip it and go about my day. I also have a hard time being a man of God. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always reflect his love the way I know I should. If left alone I would wander helplessly into who knows where and if it weren’t for God chasing me day after day, year after year, relentlessly and with a love that will not give me up, I would not be who I am. Never in my life have I looked for him. He has always come looking for me. And the only thing that is going to keep me from turning my back on Jesus is the ever-present reality of this God who chases. God is never going to stop chasing me. And so long as he chases me I can rest. And I can't wait to meet him face to face.
The God Who Chases (My God Story) The God Who Chases (My God Story) Reviewed by Pastor Marcos on October 02, 2012 Rating: 5

15 comments

  1. Marcos,

    Well, when I see you and your wife, my first thought is not.... they look so happy.... my first thought is... wow, your wife is a hottie. You must really be something amazing!! Hee hee....

    Seriously, your testimony is wonderful. Jesus chases us all and if we just stop and notice, He is there. It takes a step of faith into the unknown and we begin the journey He wants us on.

    God bless you and I hope you bring this wonderful message of grace to all your brothers and sisters in Adventism!

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    1. Teresa you are so funny! She has occasionally joked that she was desperate when we met so maybe that has something to do with it? Lol. The amazing thing though is how beautiful she is on the inside. :)

      Thank you for your comment. I am blessed to know that sharing my story was a blessing to you. God is so amazing!

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  2. Another top article, although doesn't it veer a bit close to the 'God's choice, not yours' argument? Do you believe you were predestined?

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    1. Hi David!

      Great question! To answer your question, no I do not believe in pre-destination (in the Calvinist sense). I wrote about that in a post titled, Is Pre-Destination Biblical? You can read it here: http://www.jesusadventismandi.com/2013/03/is-predestination-biblical.html

      All I am saying in this article is that "we love him because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). In other words, if God did not initiate the search for man, man would never, of his own volition, seek for God. However, while God intitates the process and comes after us he does not say "yes" for us (as pre-destinationists believe). Instead, the choice is ours. We are free to respond to the invitation or to refuse, but the invitation is always made by God first, not us.

      Hope that clears it up a bit!

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  3. Marcos I'm happy for your story. For some reason the wife of your dreams stood out to me. Could you maybe email or comment back just real quick on how you knew she was the one or how you met? I struggle thinking that I'm wasting my time waiting for Gods choice, what if I don't like his best??

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    1. Hello Jonathan!

      You ask a great question! It is actually a very funny story, lol. My wife and I met on a dating website for Adventists (Adventistsinglesconnection.com) and we chatted for about 8 months before we met (she was from Australia and I was in Hawaii at the time). There was a lot of back and forth but to put it short, neither one of us were ready to be married when we got married. We did it without much prayer and guidance and while I am supremely happy to have married her and would do it all over again we both would go about it in a more spiritual way if we could do it over. So dont feel that you are wasting your time. For sure, dont stay in limbo but nevertheless, wait on God. Its a balance that can only be held with lots of prayer.

      So in short, we werent ready to get married and have had to struggle a lot as a result but we have placed Jesus at the head of our relationship and followed his will anyhow. I couldnt be happier. My wife is certainly the woman of my dreams and I love her like no tomorrow, lol. But I have learned that to be with the girl of your dreams you have to be the guy of her dreams. Hollywood paints this picture that you will somehow find the woman who will perfectly suit all of your expectations and you will marry her and be happily ever after. Its a lie. Marriage is work, but its beautiful work, like a painter recreating a sunset. So rather than looking for the perfect woman, be the perfect man. And that can only happen as a result of being connected intimately with Jesus and being complete in him. Notice I said complete. Godly marriage is not an incomplete guy marrying an incomplete girl and the two complete each other. Godly marriage is two complete people coming together to share life with one another.

      Dont think for a moment that Gods best is somehow divorced from your best. God doesnt arbitrarily pick whats best for you based on his own desires, he picks whats best for you based on who you are as his child. He knows you more than you even know yourself and he knows who will make you not only happier but holier as well. My wife has certainly made me a holier and happier person and if you trust God to lead he will do the same for you.

      Hope that helps a bit!

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    2. BTW Jonathan, follow my blog and I'll follow yours!

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    3. Marcos one last thing, I struggle with believing and really trusting Gods best is what I will like most. I believe his way is the best way, but I struggle to believe I will like it the most, I will feel disapointed in a way, Ill only get 2nd best from God. Because Maybe my desires are too strong for what I want. I have no garauntee that I will like what God gives me. Its kind of dumb, I know. But its what the enemy has gotten me to believe. Im gonna try and take to heart what you said about God knows what we want, Holy and happy. just not one or the other. Its just too hard to trust God, I dont know how. Im very happy for you though

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    4. Jonathan, what you wrestle with is no strange thing. All of us wrestle with whether or not to trust God. The reason why is simple: Satan tells lies about God. From the very beginning the war between good and evil has centered around lies about God. Just look at the following text and pay special attention to the serpents words:

      Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

      2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

      4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

      Did you notice what the serpent did? First he threw doubt on Gods word, "Did he really say..?" Then he called him a liar, "You will not surely die" and finally he made him out to be a God who is withholding or keeping something good from Eve. "He doesn't want you to eat the fruit because he is trying to keep you under his thumb!" is basically what the serpent says.

      In other words, sin was introduced to this world, not by force, but by lies. Lies about God break our trust in him. And Satan loves to spread lies about God. The idea that, if you put your love life in Gods hands he will give you second best is just that: a lie about God.

      Honestly, since when does God want second best for everyone? Find me one instance in the Bible where he gave someone second best. Contrary, everyone who trusted in him not only got the best here, but they also have an eternity in heaven: second best? hardly.

      Lies about God are part of the reason why Jesus came to this world. He came to reveal to us what God was really like and dispel the lies. He said, "If you have seen me you have seen the father." Think about it. If you asked Jesus to give you a wife, would he give you second best? Or is it just God the Father you are worried about? No need to worry, Jesus and the Father are one and the same. Look at the cross of Calvary. Would the Jesus who gave his life for you (the best he could offer) turn around and give you second best? Jesus himself said:

      And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or [if] he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luk. 11)

      And Paul said,

      He didn't spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won't he also freely give us all things with him? (Rom. 8:32)

      God doesn't want second best for you dude. That's a lie of the devil and by Gods grace, you have to overcome that lie. I used to feel the same way and tried running life my own way until I finally discovered that my life was full of second best even though I thought I was going for first best. From that day onward I decided to trust God, and though it hasn't been easy, he never disappoints me.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  5. Marcos thank you for giving me insight! I will keep saying I trust God and he has the absolute best for me. My heart cringes, I hate that. I slowly held onto this lie that he was withholding something from me. Getting it threw my head he is good is amazing.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your testimony my brother.
    It has a strong Calvinistic flavour of predestination in it and I'm sure that the Lord Jesus would save all of His Children to the utmost without loosing one, including you. That's because He is an omnipotent saviour and trustworthy in all of His ways.
    He will also guide you safely to your new home here in beautiful Australia.
    Paul

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    1. Hi Paul G!

      Sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I have been busy! I couldn't help but feel the need to clarify your statement that my testimony "has a strong Calvinistic flavour of predestination in it". The statement doesn't bother me of course, I think John Calvin was fantastic! But I do need to clarify that it is actually a strong Arminian flavor that is present in my testimony. The concept of "The God Who Chases" carries with it the concept of "Prevenient Grace", an Arminian teaching that basically affirms that mankind cannot come to God whenever he chooses but can only come as a response to God searching for him. If God hadn't searched for me, I would never had searched for him. But he did search for me and gave me the grace to respond to him. He does the same for every soul on the earth. Wonderful Savior!

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  7. Wow your testimony resonated sooo much with mine, down to the military and everything. Wow just wow, praise God! Real encouraged reading this. God bless you and your family!

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    1. Glad you were blessed Joseph! And its awesome to talk to a fellow Vet. Blessings to you as well!

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