My son is competitive like most kids. He wants to be first everywhere we go. The problem is that he doesn’t always know where we are going. Sometimes when he gets a few steps ahead, I turn and he keeps going straight. I’ll usually make a noise to let him notice. He then runs over and tries to stay in front. With each turn, I remind him that I’m the one who knows where we are going, and that he should follow.
There are other times when he’s just trying to keep my attention. If I’m trying to do something, he’ll get in my face. If I direct my attention elsewhere, he moves to try to stay in my face. Sometimes it makes me laugh how hard he tries to get and keep my attention. The truth is that it’s a picture of how we are to be with God. Sometimes we forget to be like children, which is what Jesus told us to be like.
I believe God is looking for us to be in His presence. He’s not wanting us to be out in front of Him trying to guess where He’s leading us, and He’s not just wanting us to be somewhere in His vicinity. He wants us to go get in His face, and to be where He is looking. Psalm 116:9 says, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (NLT) The Psalmist understood what God desires from each of us, and that is to walk in His presence.
The word “presence” in its original meaning, is the word for face. So to walk in the Lord’s presence is to walk where He’s facing. In order to do that, we need to be constantly looking at Him to make sure we are going the same way He is. We have to spend time in prayer throughout the day constantly grabbing His face and attention. It’s what children who love their parents do. God is not annoyed by us in trying to do this. He is honored when we walk in His presence.
Photo by Jad Limcaco on Unsplash
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Several years ago, my then boss was near our office when she got caught in a flash flood. There was a thunderstorm sitting over us that was dumping huge amounts of rain. I went outside into the storm to push her car into the parking lot. At some point, I lost my wedding ring in the knee high waters. I spent more than an hour on my hands and knees in the middle of the storm trying to find my ring. I must have gone back and forth a more than a dozen times before I finally found it.
When the Bible uses the word “seek”, that’s what it’s talking about. It’s a relentless pursuit of something despite the obstacles, dangers or odds. It’s a single-minded focus that is determined to find something. The Bible mentions many thing we are to seek including God’s presence. How many times do we give up in our seeking because we don’t find it right away? God wants us to pursue Him and His righteousness until we’ve found Him. Don’t give up before you find what you’re looking for.
Here are some Bible verses on seeking.
1. Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
COLOSSIANS 3:1 AMP
2. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence].
1 CHRONICLES 16:11 AMP
3. But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right–the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
MATTHEW 6:33 AMP
4. This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another.
JOHN 15:17 AMP
5. Seek and deeply long for the LORD and His strength [His power, His might]; Seek and deeply long for His face and His presence continually.
PSALM 105:4 AMP
Photo by Louis Blythe on Unsplash
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?
We’ve all played Hide and Go Seek when we were little. It’s a rite of passage for kids. With my son being an only child, he played it mainly with his grandmother. When He would seek her, she would make noises so he could find her. To this day, he thinks the object of the game is to be found instead of staying hidden. When he plays with other kids, he makes sure that they can find him in his hiding spot.
Sometimes it feels like we are playing Hide and Go Seek with God. The good news is that He plays it like my son. He wants to be found! It does take some effort on our part to leave where we are to go seeking after Him. His desire is to continuously pull us closer to Him and further away from where we were. It’s up to us to continually seek Him and His strength for our lives. We should live in constant pursuit of God.
In I Chronicles 16. King David had just moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He gave a song to the priests to sing. My favorite line comes from verse 11. It says, “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence]” (AMP). You and I were created to Seek God. There is a longing in us to be in His presence, but are we making the effort to do so? Are we taking the time to seek Him daily?
In Matthew 7:7 Jesus famously told us that if we ask, it will be given to us. If we seek, we will find. If we knock, it will be opened. If we will seek Him, His strength and His face we will find Him. He’s not trying to stay hidden. He’s making noises and giving us clues as to where He is. He wants to be found, but we’ve got to get off base and go find Him. That continuous pursuit is what creates growth in us as Christians. If you never stop seeking God, you’ll never stop finding Him.
Have you ever had to find your way around in the dark? Even if you’re in a familiar place, when the electricity goes out, you still bump into things. When it’s pitch black, and you can’t see your hand in front of your face, you have to feel your way around so you don’t get hurt or break anything. I usually do the zombie walk. You know the one where your hands are out front of you. I’m hoping that I feel something familiar and can follow it to my destination. I know I’m not far away, but there are obstacles along my path.
This world is a dark place, but you and I have been called to be light like a city set on a hill that can’t be hidden. Even though this world is familiar to all of us who live on it, many are wandering around it in spiritual darkness. Some choose to stay where they are, while others are feeling their way around. It’s up to us to help them find their way to God. We are the ones who are to lead them to their destination. God is not far from any one of us.
That was Paul’s message to the Greeks. They were a people who were feeling around looking for God, but in the process created many gods. Paul saw their longing to find the one true God and spoke to them in Acts 17:27. He said, “His (God’s) purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him – though He is not far from any one of us” (NLT). Man has always had a need to look beyond himself to find God.
Even today, according to the Washington Post, more than 8 in 10 people worldwide worship a god. That’s because God created all of us with a desire to search beyond ourselves for significance and purpose. As Christians, we’ve got to step out of our churches, our homes and places of comfort to be the light God has called us to be so we can help people who are feeling their way around find God. He is not far from any of us. We just have to be willing to be used in helping the lost find Him.
To abandon someone is to quit supporting them or to give up on them. If you’ve ever been through some of life’s toughest circumstances, you know what it’s like to be abandoned by some of your family or friends. You find out that there are people in your life that you can count on, and there are people that you can’t. When you’re looking for advice, a place to regroup, or just a shelter from the storm, some people that you seek out will abandon you. Some of the ones who you thought would support you through thick and thin give up on you.
David was a person who knew a thing or two about being abandoned. He was forgotten by his father, disrespected by his brothers, shamed by his wife, chased by the king, and dishonored by his son. The people in his life that he should have been able to count on, turned their backs on him at some point in his life. He knew a thing or two about rock bottom. He looked for those he could count on in times of trouble.
In all of his searching, there was one who never abandoned him. God. David wasn’t a perfect man either. He cheated on his wife, had a man murdered, and did some unthinkable things. Yet when he sought after God, he knew that no matter what he had done, God would not abandon him. He knew that there was nothing he had done that God couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive. When others gave up on him, God never did. In fact, God said he was a man after His own heart.
You may have walked David’s shoes. Maybe you’ve been abandoned by those who love you or you’ve abandoned the things you know are right. Either way, if you will seek God, He won’t abandon you. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you” (GNT). It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you or what you’ve done to others, you can find shelter, hope, and forgiveness in God when you seek Him out.
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.