Mike Leach, the college football coach for Mississippi State, passed away recently. He was beloved by players, fans, and other coaches. He was hilarious and did some unconventional things. A story from Mike Leach’s coaching days at Texas Tech University reminds me of God’s gracious pursuit. In 2008, his team was really good. They went 11-2 for the year, but early in the season Coach Leach was really frustrated with the kicking game. Matt Williams was a sophomore at Texas Tech University—a regular student and not on the football team. On a September Saturday, Matt entered a drawing for the chance to kick a 30-yard field goal between the 3rd and 4th quarter of the game. The radio station was offering a year’s worth of free rent if the person whose name was drawn could connect on the field goal. Matt was a kicker in high school so he knew how to kick, so when his name was drawn, he nailed the kick. He walked off the field excited. An equipment manager told him, “Mike Leach wants to talk,” and a few weeks later, Matt became the kicker for Texas Tech—called out of the stands by Coach Leach.
When the apostle Jude writes to believers who are disoriented by the world around them and people walking away from Jesus, he reminds them that they are “the called, loved, and kept.”
Like Matt Williams, we were pursued. But unlike Matt Williams, Jesus pursued us because of His grace. We are His not because of our goodness, but because of His.
J. I. Packer wrote, “Knowing God is a matter of grace. It is a relationship in which the initiative throughout is with God—as it must be, since God is so completely above us and we have so completely forfeited all claim on His favor by our sins. We do not make friends with God; God makes friends with us, bringing us to know Him by making His love known to us.” Jude challenges us to keep in the love of God because there is no love like God’s love. To leave God’s love for something else is to always leave His love for something less.
Jesus spoke of the difference between sheep (those who belong to Him) and goats (those who do not belong to Him): “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). We are not kept by our ability to hold on to Him but by His promise to hold on to us. We are kept not by our strength but by His. No one can snatch us out of His hand and He will never discard us.