One of my father in law’s favorite activities is doing word search puzzles. They’re the ones where it’s a box of alphabet letters with words hidden in them. The word your looking for could be vertical, backwards, diagonal, or regular. It takes concentration, persistence, and determination at times to find these words. Sometimes, when he can’t find a word, he asks for help from someone else. An outside set of eyes often provides a fresh perspective in finding the words.
To me, finding God can be like one of those puzzles. He’s hidden in our daily lives among the things we’re used to seeing each and every day. It takes concentration, persistence, and determination to find Him in our daily lives. Often times, someone else comes along and points Him out to us while we are seeking Him. Sometimes we’re looking for Him to be hidden and He’s right there in plain sight.
One of the things we do at our nightly devotions with teams who go on a mission trip to Haiti is to ask them, “Where did you see Jesus today?” The first night is usually pretty quiet because so many of us live our lives knowing God is always with us, but we fail to look for Him. We trust He’s there, but we don’t take the time to search for Him daily and to seek Him. God’s desire is that we move past just an acknowledgment of His presence and that we would seek it daily.
Jeremiah 29:13 says, “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (MSG). When is the last time you searched for God in your daily life? He wants us to seek His presence daily and to see a His hand at work in our lives and in the lives of others. If we’re not careful, we’ll miss it. He wants to be found by us, but are we seeking Him?
A few years ago, I was at work in Houston when a bad thunderstorm came through and created a flash flood. I was sitting at my desk when my cell phone rang with my boss’ caller ID on it. When I answered, I heard her crying. When I asked what was wrong, she said she was trapped in the street in front of the office. The high waters had come over her hood and shut down her car. She needed help getting into the parking lot.
I took out my wallet and cell phone, then waded through water above my knees out into the street. As I was pushing her car, a couple of strangers hopped out of theirs to help me. I kept slipping in my dress shoes as we pushed her car through the water. Once we got her car into a spot, I grabbed an umbrella to walk her inside. As I closed the umbrella, I realized my wedding ring was gone. I looked at a friend and told him I had to go find it.
He stood over me with an umbrella to prevent the rain from disrupting the water as I searched. We retraced my steps over and over. I got on all fours and dragged my hands across the ground. We searched for over half an hour and couldn’t find it. Since it was thundering and lightening, he convinced me to go back inside until it cleared up. I was soaked to the bone and upset. I called my wife to tell her about what happened.
After about an hour, the rain died down and the waters went down too. I went back out looking for it. I dug through a drain in the parking lot with no luck. I searched and searched for another 45 minutes. As I stood on the curb, I put my head down and told my friend, “I give up.” That’s when something gold and round caught my eye between my feet. I reached down through the water and pulled up my ring! I was so excited that God had answered my prayer and my search wasn’t in vain.
We can probably all quote Jeremiah 29:11, but the verses that come after are just as powerful. Verse 13 says, “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (MSG). God’s plans to prosper us begin with us seeking Him the way I sought that ring. We must get on our hands and knees and search for Him more than anything else. When we do, we won’t be disappointed because we will find Him and receive the future we hope for.
Have you ever looked through any of the “Where’s Waldo” books by Martin Handford? I have always loved those books. I’ve spent countless hours as a kid, and an adult, looking for the guy in red and white. I’ve scoured beaches, mountain sides, city squares, circuses and more trying to find him. Sometimes I find him quickly and other times it takes me a while, but I always find him. Why? Because I don’t give up when I don’t see him right away. I keep looking. Sometimes I think I’ve found him, but it’s just someone drew into the picture in similar clothes to keep me off the trail.
We can use the same principles of finding Waldo to find Jesus. The first thing we have to do is start looking. We have to be willing to look through every square inch of what’s around us in order to find Him. We have to be willing to see some crazy things, some funny things and some mundane things if we’re going to find Him. We have to be willing to spend some time seeking Him out. He’s able to be found, but it requires that we spend some time doing it. We can’t give up when we don’t find Him right away.
Sometimes when I need to find Him, He’s easy to point out. I can get my answer and move on with life. Other times, it takes hours, days, months, even years to find Him. During those longer periods, it’s tough to keep going. When we aren’t rewarded quickly for our diligence, we get discouraged. We feel like failures and want to give up. I get it. You feel like you’re living in a barren wasteland while you look. You wonder if God has forgotten you and begin to think He must get pleasure from hiding from you. I can tell you that He wants to be found. He just wants to know how far you will go to get what you want.
In Jeremiah 29:13-14 God says, “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about find me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed (MSG).” We have to be serious about finding Him. It can’t be a half hearted glance. We need to really seek Him out when we must have an answer. He also said we have to want to find Him more than anything else. More than food. More than our job. More than oxygen. More than our next heartbeat. When we seek Him with that kind of intensity, we won’t be disappointed.
Have you been half-heartedly seeking Him or have you been on your knees desperately seeking Him? Have you turned over ever rock looking for Him? Jesus promised that if we would seek, we would find. If we ask, we’ll be given. If we knock, it’ll be opened. Finding Jesus usually doesn’t come easy. It requires us to do work. It requires us to make serious sacrifices. Don’t give up in your search for Him. He’s wanting you to find Him for the answer you’ve been waiting on. He just needs you to spend more time, give a stronger effort and to look harder than you ever have. I promise He’s there in front of you. Block out the look a likes and all the crazy distractions and you’ll see Him.