“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
This is one of the more encouraging and hopeful verses in the Bible. It had a profound impact on me when I was first reading the Bible. I took it to heart, and it guided me into a relational position with God.
As with any verse or passage in the Bible, the depth, nuance and layers of meaning can be drawn out by focusing on the context. We can tease the meaning out further by considering application of it to my own life.
The context here is a letter written by the prophet, Jeremiah, to his people who had recently been exiled to Babylon. Though Jeremiah’s letter was written to a particular people in a particular time and place under particular circumstances, and it was particularly relevant to them, it has application to us today. Some people claim that an ancient verse like this that was written to a specific people in a specific time for a specific purpose shouldn’t be applied to modern life. I beg to differ.
If I can’t find something I am looking for, does that mean it doesn’t exist?
In the context of searching for God, if I can’t “find Him”, does that mean He doesn’t exist?
My inability to find something I’m looking for is not proof that the thing I am looking for doesn’t exist. Ask my wife. She will often describe an object to me and asked me to go retrieve it for her. I am reluctant to say how many times I have come back without what she sent me to retrieve. I might even be embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve wanted to tell her that the object doesn’t exist
How many times have we said to ourselves when looking for something, “It isn’t anywhere!”? Do we mean, literally, that the object isn’t anywhere? Not usually. Intellectually we know that it is somewhere, but we just can’t find it.
Maybe I am looking in the wrong place. If I’m looking for an object I’ve never seen before, maybe I have the wrong picture of the object in my mind and I am not looking for the right thing. Maybe the object isn’t where I thought it was. Maybe the object is hidden and needs to be uncovered.
These examples are allegorical when it comes to the idea of searching for God.
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 real, life changing, experiential encounter with God!
In Finding Jesus Part I (Seeking God: When God Does Not Answer), we explored the idea that God is near us at all times, but we cannot connect with Him because of us. We are the problem; we get in the way of “finding” God, and in order to “find God”, we must get out of the way (lose ourselves).
I will explore getting to the end of self where we can find God in this piece and follow it up with a look at Finding Jesus Part III (Seeking God: Different Paths and the conclusion: Finding Jesus Part IV (Seeking God: Finding Jesus)!
But first, I want to relate a conversation I had with my daughter. She told me that she has called out to God in the past, but he was not there. He didn’t respond, and she was discouraged.
I have been there too. I’ve called out to God at times in my past, and God didn’t respond. One time in particular, it was as if I was talking to the clouds, and my words were bouncing back at me.
I distinctly remember that time. I was perplexed, not knowing which direction to go. I had life choices ahead of me that were mutually exclusive. They were widely divergent paths, and I was torn. I was either going to go back to college for my senior year, or I was going to drop out.
In Finding Jesus Part I (Seeking God: When God Does Not Answer)), we explored the idea that God is near us at all times; that we do not actually “find” God; that we are the problem; that we get in the way of “finding” God; and in order to “find God”, we must get out of the way and do the unthinkable – lose ourselves .
In Finding Jesus Part II (Seeking God: Getting to the End of Self), we explored what it means to be in the way, to lose ourselves and get out of the way, with an anecdotal example from my own life.
But we need to explore that a bit further before getting to the conclusion: finding Jesus. And it may help to contrast what getting to the end of self (losing the self) means in the Christian sense compared to the Buddhist sense because finding the right path is important to getting where you want to go.
I started on a journey to “truth” when I was in high school that continued into college. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I was confident truth could be known. I didn’t know where I would find it, but I sensed intuitively that truth was accessible and all around us. I looked anywhere and everywhere, in all the writers, thinkers, philosophers and, last of all, religious leaders that seemed to speak confidently on the subject.
I found what I was looking for. Whether it is, “The Truth” will only be confirmed in the hereafter, but I know this for a certainty: that the inner hunger and drive that I had when I was younger was met when I encountered Jesus Christ!
It’s time for a little update, not much, but I am no longer new to blogging. I have been at it a few years. Not that I have gained any particular stature. I simply can’t claim to be new at it. I still write as part of my profession, but blogging is more interesting. Blogging is my way of sharpening ideas and fleshing them out. I know I don’t always “get it right”, but it’s the journey that counts.
I have been on a journey for truth since I emerged from the haze and confusion of adolescence, much of it self-induced. Stepping out of that myopic existence I began to get an inkling that a world of truth lay in front of me to encounter, and so I set off. I didn’t realize, then, how much faith is required to seek truth. Continue reading “My Journey”→