Finding Jesus Part I
When we cry out to God and can’t hear his voice, and He doesn’t respond, and we don’t sense his presence, we tend to get discouraged. For someone who is doubting and has not ever felt God’s presence, the tempting conclusion is likely one of the following: 1) God does not exist; 2) God is not accessible; 3) God is fickle; or 4) we are not good enough (or some variation of the forgoing).
I have been there and know the feeling of angst that accompanies a desire to connect with a God who does not seem to want to connect with me.
In this piece, and the two segments that follow it, I am going to explore how to “find” Jesus. This is not some intellectual or superstitious exercise. This is no fanciful experiment. I am talking about a real, life changing, experiential encounter with God!
Before starting the journey, I need to set the stage. I put “find” in quotation marks because we do not really find Him at all. In fact, God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit is near us even now! God is everywhere, and that includes near each of us! In a nut shell, God is not in need of being found; we are!
The problem is not that God is far away; the problem is that we are far away. The problem isn’t with God, it’s with us, and that means we are in the way of finding God. Thus, when we go on a journey to find God, what we are really doing, though we may not understand it or see it that way, is we are going on a journey beyond ourselves.
The goal, therefore, is to get past your self to find God. This may sound a little bit like the Buddhist journey to Nirvana, but put that thought away for a second. I will get into that subject in a later installment (Different Paths) after which comes are the next installment (Getting to the End of Self).
Meanwhile, let’s start at the right beginning. We have to have the right mindset to approach God with the hope of finding Him.
- Honesty. We have to approach God in truth. If God knows your thoughts and the words you will speak before you speak them, there is no sense thinking we can hide anything from God. This means we must be honest with ourselves and God, intimately honest. You cannot approach God any other way.
Sincerity. We also must approach Him with a sincere heart, sincerely wanting to know Him. If God knows our thoughts, he knows our hearts – how we feel and what we desire. If you don’t desire to know God, there is no use pretending you want to find Him!
Willingness. Finally, we need to be willing to believe that God is there to be found. If you don’t believe it (or are not willing to believe it), you might as well forget about seeking.
Willingness doesn’t mean you have to trump up some feeling you don’t really have. This is no superstitious effort. If you have doubts, be honest about them (see No. 1 above). If you’re not honest about your doubts, you might as well stop right were you are and go no further.
If God is God (and ( am here to tell you He is!), He can overcome your doubts. He is with you; He is near you; He is around you; He is waiting for you to get past yourself and want Him more than you want yourself.
Willingness is a key – because you and your will are what stand in the way.
The Bible calls this sin.
Forget the moralistic ideas of sin. Sin means at its core “missing the mark”. Sin is self-will without God. It is the exaltation of self. Sin is the prioritization of self (me first) over God. That is why willingness is so important. We must be willing to get past the barrier of self.
The world tempts us with “finding ourselves”. Does that not seem odd that we would feel like we have to find ourselves? The world tempts us to put “me first” – me to the exclusion of God – but finding our selves is not what we need and not what we really long for.
The thing is that God doesn’t want us to ignore ourselves. He wants us to take ourselves seriously. He doesn’t want to squash you and prevent you from being you! He wants to give you the unique creation He created you to be! And, you can only find the real you in drawing near to God.
But there is a problem. Me and my sin in my unregenerate state are one and the same. Yes, I am sinful!
What?! Aren’t we all good at the core? No!
This is where you need to be brutally honest with your self. Finding God depends on it!
If you’re not willing to accept the fact that you are sinful at the core (set against God, tending away from God, set in your own ways and resistant to God), you might as well turn back. The Bible, which Jesus affirmed, indicates that we are born into this world separated from God. This separation (sin) stands in the way of finding God.
We need to get past sin (which is identical to self in our natural state) to be able to see and hear God.
God has made a way for us to do that! That way is through believing in and following Jesus. Jesus showed us the way by His own example. The example is of denying his self and taking up the cross. To follow His example means submitting my will to His will. We do this by accepting Jesus as our Lord and the Savior who will rescue us from ourselves and eliminate the gap that separates us from God.
Ironically, you cannot do this on your own.
Say what? Nope. Remember sin?
We are naturally set against and opposed to God, stuck in our own ways, locked into our own will as it were. So… how in the world do get where we want to go!?
More Good News!
God takes care of that! We only need to be willing (or willing to be willing). That is why willingness is so important! God changes us, and this change is called being “born again”. Being born again means a literal transformation from one thing to another – from unrepentant, stubbornly willful goer-of-our-own-way to a person whose heart is aligned with the Creator of the Universe!
We don’t do this ourselves. It is a truly miraculous occurrence!
If you have experienced it, you know exactly what I mean. God takes your heart of stone and makes it a heart of flesh, sensitive to Him and His voice. (This is how we “find” God.) In a very real sense this experience, is like dying to ourselves and arising to God.
When we were born in the flesh, separated from God, we had no choice in that process, but we were born into a precious opportunity. This life is an opportunity to choose God’s will (or continue with our own will). If we choose God’s will, and His Lordship over our lives, He becomes the Savior of our souls. In that transition, we are born of the Spirit into new life that does not perish like our flesh does.
In this way, the problem I identified at the beginning is solved; we get past ourselves (die to ourselves) and arise to God. God forgives us and cleanses us from our sin so that there is nothing separating us from God. We are transformed from a being in opposition to God to being aligned with God, and He does all the work!
There is nothing for us to do. We are already doing too much. We are the problem. We are in the way.
If you are reading this and beginning to grasp it for the first time, it must seem all so theoretical and mysterious, if not unbelievable. I understand.
Throughout Scripture God encourages us to rest. He tells us to be still and know that He is God. We must be still and know (acknowledge) that He is God in order to hear His voice, which can be “still” and “small”. We must quiet ourselves so that we can hear God.
Finding God involves you telling yourself self to calm down, slow down, stop striving, start listening, let go of your own thoughts and preconceived notions and let God do His thing.
We need to get past the din in our own lives and the loudest voice of all – our own – before we can “find” God.
He is there! He is with you even now. Will you turn yourself toward Him and yield yourself to Him?
There is no other way to know God without being willing to give your self to Him.
 “He is not far from each of us.” (Acts 17:27)
 Psalm 139
 Psalm 139:2 (“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”)
 Psalm 139 4 (“Even before a word is on my tongue,behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”)
 “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:8)
 “[L]et us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)
 Psalm 46:10 (“Be still, and know that I am God.”)
 1 Kings 19:12 (God spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice” (KJV) or a “low whisper.” ESV)