"The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you'" (Jeremiah 31:3).
BECAUSE HE LOVES US WITH A PERSISTENT LOVE, GOD WILL NOT GIVE UP ON US WITHOUT HAVING PURSUED US TO THE VERY END. If we think He invites us to accept His rule but is indifferent as to whether we do that or not, we have read little of what the Scriptures say of His love. We never refuse our God without breaking His heart, and in the end, that is what sin always comes down to: a refusal to accept God's love. When we say no to Him, we are stubbornly saying no to the better things His love is longing to give us. We are running away from our greatest good!
Mark it well, however: although it is a long time, it is not forever that God will pursue us with His love. The patience of God is greater than any mortal patience, but eventually it will come to an end. Having been given the freedom of our will, we may continue to refuse Him for a while. Yet if we do so long enough, the time will come when the pursuit is over and the only thing left is awesome judgment. Weeping over Jerusalem, Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'" (Matthew 23:37-39).
If we still live, however, then God still pursues us because we mean so much to Him. The "Hound of Heaven" will not easily be thrown off our trail. And those who have finally relented and let themselves be overtaken by His love find that their joy is tinged by only one real regret: that they did not let themselves be loved sooner. Francis Thompson, in his remarkable poem, has well guessed what our Lord will say at last to those who have found Him: "Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, / I am He whom thou seekest! / Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest me."
I fled Him, down the night and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.