You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Panic. Not a healthy state of existence, but one I recently found myself in at work.
I had gotten a request from one of my clients to make a really simple edit to a computer-based training course I had created for them previously. One of their work processes had changed and they needed me to simply substitute one word for another in the onscreen text.
Piece of cake – a five-minute fix.
Except that the original file – the file I had to have in order to make any updates/changes/edits to the presentation; the file without which no updates/changes/edits would be possible, then or ever; the file that included dozens of unique photos, specially created graphics, animated demonstrations of software applications, every second of the accompanying recorded narration, and weeks of editing – was missing from our computer server. It wasn’t in the “Computer-Based Training” folder; in fact, the entire “Computer-Based Training” folder with all other files used to create computer-based training was missing from the server.
After plopping down in my boss’s office and whining about my plight, threatening to seek vengeance if I ever found out who had deleted all that work, and weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, I began to assess my meager options:
- I could resign myself to just starting over from scratch, repeating all those weeks of creating, recording, editing, blood, sweat, and tears.
- I could tell the client my dog ate their presentation.
- I could just get a new job.
Since options #2 and #3 weren’t really realistic, it seemed option #1 was the only viable one. However, I decided that, before beginning from square one yet again, I would manually search through the folders on our computer server first, in case one of my co-workers had somehow managed to move the files I needed to an obscure location (although none of them were currently willing to confess to doing that).
The rub? There are several hundred folders of content on our server, some with hundreds of files in them. The alternative? See option #1 above.
So I began to search.
At first, I thought I would just look in the most likely places someone might move content like that. Then it occurred to me that, if the move was accidental, there really wasn’t an unlikely place it could be.
So I started at the first folder and worked my way down, looking thoroughly and diligently in every folder, sub-folder, sub-sub-folder, etc.
I searched throughout the morning; I searched while eating lunch sitting at my desk; I searched throughout the afternoon. As I neared the end of the list of folders, the reality of option #1 loomed large on the horizon.
Then, suddenly, there it was, almost at the end of the list of folders in as unlikely a place as it could possibly be – the equivalent of putting Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” on the shelf with “Principles of Quantum Mechanics (2nd Edition)” and “The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory.”
I had to know if the move was accidental…
To: My fellow team members
Subject: Computer-Based Training folder
Is there a reason the “Computer-Based Training” folder has been moved to the “Photos of our team outing to the zoo” folder?
I’m going to move it back to its proper place if no one objects.
Anyway, although it took intensely focused dedication and desire (and the better part of the day) searching for that file, the pay-off for that effort was absolutely worth it. I found exactly what I was looking for.
Although my dog-with-a-bone determination was mainly driven by the fact that I didn’t want to have to start all over and re-create that presentation (some might call that laziness…), I had to commit to searching with a single-mindedness, devoting all my personal resources to finding what I was looking for. In other words, I had to get serious.
So here’s the $64,000 spiritual question: Do I search for God with the hope of finding Him with that same dedication and desire? I want to answer unequivocally “yes” to that question, but I continually find myself falling so far short of God’s ideal for my life that it seems as though the best I can do is answer “I try to.”
So what do I mean by “finding God?” Let me illustrate that by describing what I don’t mean. Here are six options for not finding God:
- Listening to Christian music.
- Listening to sermons, live or recorded.
- Going to church.
- Singing in the choir, even when lifting my hands in praise while I sing.
- Reading about God in books by the finest Christian authors. I recall a scene from a sitcom I used to watch where the main characters were interviewing nannies for their children, with little success. One of the women being interviewed actually commented when asked why she should be hired: “I like children. I’ve always liked them, and enjoy reading about them.” Kind of sums up some folks’ relationship with God…
- Reading the Bible simply to check it off of my spiritual to-do list for the day.
HOWEVER – if you’ve read any other posts in this blog, you know that I believe all six of these things to be important in my Christian life. But while they can – and do – definitely set the stage for an encounter with the creator of the universe, by themselves they’re just spiritual appetizers.
So, if you can’t find God through church activities and staying busy for Him, how do you search for God with a single-mindedness, devoting all your personal resources to finding what you’re looking for? Is there a 7th option? God answers that question in Jeremiah 29:13, today’s verse. He says, “You will seek me and find me if you seek me with all your heart.” (emphasis mine)
In other words:
- You have to get serious.
- You have to desire an intimate relationship with Him above everything else and do whatever it takes to cultivate that relationship.
- You have to put that relationship first before everything else, even before the things you do in service to Him.
In the next verse after today’s verse God actually offers an incentive for seeking Him with all your heart. He says, “I will be found by you…” He’s not playing hide-n-go-seek with us – He wants us to find Him. It’s just that, due to the free will He’s given us to choose whether or not we want an intimate relationship with Him, He won’t force Himself on us. He’s right there, hoping we’ll take the necessary step – let’s call that option #7 – but we have to choose to take that step. We have to recognize options #1 through #6 for what they are – wonderful, important practices for Christian growth, but no substitute for a living, breathing relationship with our Heavenly Father.
For me, the key to option #7 – cultivating an intimate relationship with God – is through prayer combined with Bible study. I communicate with God through prayer and He communicates with me through His Word. It’s a match made in heaven…
So spend dedicated time in prayer with the Lord daily, listening as much – or more – as you speak. Ask God to hold His Word up to you as a mirror; to show you yourself reflected in what you read. Seek Him with all your heart, not just with your service.
Then He will be found by you – and that’s a promise.
*Sinner Saved By Grace In Search Of Intimate Relationship with the Creator of the Universe