DILIGENTLY SEEKING GOD?
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
FEBRUARY 2, 2015
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13, NIV).
In this verse, the prophet Jeremiah foreshadows the Hebrew writer, who later wrote, “God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6, KJV). Many of us have been seeking more of God for most of our lives. The Psalmist wrote, “As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1, NIV). That speaks to my heart about how vital my relationship to God is to my well being, and how my very existence comes from Him 24/7. He is my Father, Mother, Counselor and Friend, the source of all I am and have, which is why I continuously seek His guidance and comfort.
Jesus spoke a lot about seeking God. In Luke 11:9-13, He taught His disciples, “And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (RSV). Those verses are often quoted as the formula for getting our prayers answered.
In my youth, I remember being bitterly disappointed when something I prayed for diligently, did not come to pass. The passage in Luke is part of Jesus‘ lesson on how to pray. Matthew has the same account of what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” except that he adds these words: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, NIV). In my youthful enthusiasm, I’m not sure I really wanted God’s will to be done, as much as I wanted my own will to be done, and therein lies the rub.
Isaiah declared God’s point of view about why His will is always superior to ours: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isa. 46:9-10, NIV). He knows the end from the beginning, how everything began and how it will turn out, which is why His will is paramount in our lives. It’s one thing to accept this concept with our minds, but much harder to get it worked into us at a cellular level. That’s what life is about, revealing God’s hand in the trenches and cactus patches he leads us through and delivers us from.
This business of seeking God has been on my heart for a while now. Fr. Richard Rohr has focused his meditations this year on encountering the Presence of God. He noted recently, that we Christians are always looking for authority. In his January 15, meditation, entitled “Beyond Words,” he observed, “After the Enlightenment in the 17th century, we regressed in many ways as religion wanted to compete with the rational, intelligent thinkers of Europe. The later Protestant Reformation moved forward with this mind as individuals and groups claimed there was only one correct interpretation of every scripture. Catholics looked to the Pope for that one correct interpretation. It’s no surprise there are 30,000 Protestant denominations today, and Catholicism became so monarchical. We will never agree on the meanings of words. That’s why the Word became flesh, to reveal that words can’t get you there. Only experience, love, and relationship can.” End quote.
During the time of the Law, God sent the prophets with words of encouragement, words of explanation regarding God’s will for Israel, and a spectacular display of God’s omnipotent power and authority to enforce those words. These prophets were ordinary men who were filled with the extraordinary Spirit of God; they did as they were commanded, and God certainly did His part by confirming their words with signs and wonders. Alas, however, words just didn’t cut it and raw power itself has limited authority in the heart of a spiritually unregenerated person. This is why Jesus left the portals of glory, and clothing Himself with flesh, He came to redeem this bloody mess humans live in on earth.
The true light which lightens every man, came into the world of men. Born of a virgin, He was the incarnation of God Himself, and “to all who received him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory as of the only son from the Father” (John 1:8,13-14, RSV).
These are thrilling words to live by, and to bear in mind when we are seeking a deeper walk with God, for everything we know and have, from our faith to our salvation, is a gift from God. He does all things well. It was not our will which brought us to Christ, but His, and the most amazing thing about that, Paul declared, is that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4). When I was doing the service at Medicalodge, I would ask the old dears what they did before the foundation of the world to qualify for God’s selection of them in Christ. They would look puzzled and then, one of them would say, “Nothing.”
He gives us the desires of our hearts (Ps. 37:4). So when we desire a closer walk with God, we can be sure that He made us hungry for more of Himself, which He will fulfill in His time. Jesus assured His disciples, and all of us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16, RSV). There it is again, the promise that He will give us what we ask. It seemed to take me a very long time before I finally understood that the promise is always and forever fulfilled by God’s will and in His time, for His glory, never mine.
Christ came into the world as a helpless baby, whose first crib was a lowly manger. There’s much more to that than lovely Christmas card graphics. Christ is our example, now and forever, the pattern son, in whose image and likeness we are being molded and formed. He grew into his ministry, only coming into His own after living among men for 30 some years. This helps me never to give up hope. Our dear friend Harry Fox told me years ago, “Just because God doesn’t do something by Tuesday midnight, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.”
Being formed into the image and likeness of Christ, praying according to His will, does not happen overnight. It is a life long process, but Paul assured us, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26, RSV), or (“groanings which cannot be uttered,” KJV). And the good news continues, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30, RSV). It is clearly a life-long process designed for our good and His glory.
The process of seeking a closer walk with God can be daunting and discouraging IF we try to tackle it in our own strength. We usually create, “wood, hay and stubble” with our self efforts (See I Cor. 3:12-15), but when God does it through us and in us, it will be done in His time, and done gloriously.
Father, You have loved us and called us from before the foundations of the world. We ask that You imprint that truth on our spirits so we can truly know that You are the author and finisher of our Faith. Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. With You on our side, who can be against us? And how can we fail? Make us instruments of Your peace, a city set on a hill and a light in the darkness. We give You all glory and praise and honor, and blessings, now and forever, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Amen.