Seek – Matthew 7:7-12
There is a type of seeking which is very intentional and energetic. It is rooted in the idea that God is way up in heaven and that intimacy with him is hard for us, who are way down here on earth. We tell our selves our seeking bridges the gap, our zealous seeking more so. This type of wrong-heartedness evidences our entanglement in religion. It spills over into everything we do in relationship with Him and what we perceive we are doing in ministry for him. This error becomes embedded in the foundations of our identity and our perception of God. We might ask, “Then how are we to know if we have gone toxic in our seeking? How would we know we are entangled in-religion?” That is a good question.
I have been this type of super seeker, bridging the distance between God and myself with all the zeal I could muster, or so I told myself. I discovered my entanglement with religion painfully. It was like this: If you can imagine a car (fairly shiny) running down the highway and the dash board lights start issuing warnings. First, the power steering goes out and the car lurches hard to the left. Next the hood snaps up and crashes the windshield. Smoke starts billowing from the engine which is making some horrendous noise. The tires all pop and the thing flies off the road into the ditch where it sits, smoldering. It doesn’t preach well, but I call this the kindness of God which leads to repentance. If you know my story, there is less exaggeration here than you might imagine. MwM often supples the actual details related to this auto metaphor.
MwM started flowing from post-roadside-incident Rob in 2012. It serves as a good contrast between one type of seeking and another. I began writing because the idea of telling my story came to me in a fashion I have learned to understand as God speaking. First Clue; The idea came, for the most part, out of nowhere, yet it sounded familiar. It didn’t come from behind me as a goad to perform. It came from in front of me as an invitation. It had a Father/son – let’s-do-this-together kind of feel. In tone and content, it resonated within me.
Second Clue: The familiarity may have been due to my awareness of New Testament commands such as; “Give an account of the hope that is within you.” “Comfort others with the comfort with which you have been comforted.” “Hold fast to your confession.” “Pass these things (I have taught you) onto other faithful men who will do the same.”
Third Clue: A prophetic word Daneille and I received at the beginning of 2013 indicated that our family was going to undergo a major change. When I originally heard God’s invitation to write, it was accompanied by this thought; “When you do (write) you will you will find your family.” This was the third witness to my word from God. I can report that a community has come into view although it does not have the geographic features I had anticipated. I have discovered my family is scattered all over the earth.
Today, when I discover I have drifted back and am operating out of that spirit, that pushes from behind, I feel a bit ill. It is as though I have betrayed him. When I think my doing of anything effects his love for me or the fruit I bear in him, I have violated something very fundamental in our relationship. I cannot reconcile seeking, in this spirit, with Jesus’ words…
Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11 NAS
God is a generous Father but we treat him like a reluctant slot-machine that only pays out when we adhere to a creed or heed the proscriptions of a our religious sub-cultures. While we are storming heaven with our zealous seeking, he is saying,
“Kids, I am down here already. Recall – my address on earth is your heart. Keep this in mind when you are knocking and seeking.” Paul understood this…
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 NAS
When Father tells us He loves us and He invites us to love Him and seek Him with all our hearts, we must not let our feelings, which have been conditioned in religion-birthed estrangement, flavor our seeking. When Father tells us He would never leave nor forsake us, that means He is right here, right now in our hearts and in the midst of our lives in all their varied expressions. We are inseparable. Trouble in no way indicates His absence. Our hearts becomes whole-hearted only when they are at rest in the reality of His presence, which is totally independent of our feelings and actions. God doesn’t descend on demand when we utter Jesus’ name. He is saying, “Kids, I’m here already! Simply ask.”
The lyrics to an old Jackson Browne song come to mind …
Father, my eyes have seen the years / And the slow parade of fears / Without crying
now I want to understand / I have done all that I could / To see the evil and the good without hiding / You must help me if you can.
Father, my eyes tell me what is wrong / Was I unwise to leave them open for so long ? /
Cause I have wandered through this world / And as each moment has unfurled
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams
People go just where they will / I never noticed them until I got this feeling / That it’s later than it seems / Father, my eyes / Tell me what you see / I hear their cries / Just say if it’s too late for me / Father, my eyes cannot see the sky / Is this the prize for having learned how not to cry?
I suppose its the seeking I hear in Brown’s poetic-honesty that strikes me. I wonder if there is not more hope in discovering God through a broken hearted minstrel’s search than through the seeking that tries to bring God down from way up there with zeal and methodology. This secular psalmist has captured the ache without any religious pretense. Way to go JB! I trust he will forgive me for having substituted “Father“ for “Doctor” in his lyrics.
Father, if we need to cry a bit now over how we have thought of you and related to you, so be it. Apply your salve to our eyes. Tell us what you see. Fill our hearts with pure and simple devotion that trusts in You alone. Ween us of all the religious supplements we take in vain to nourish our spiritual lives, when You Yourself are our Life. Help us to rethink our thinking in light of this truth-and-grace ruled-kingdom. We do aspire to love you rightly. Amen.