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Posts Tagged ‘seeking’

Looking for GodSeek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon. [Isaiah 55:6-7]

It’s not that God is missing, you know, or that God is moving closer and farther away. It’s the seeker who is either ready or not to discover God in Spirit, working and moving, speaking and transforming our lives. And when we, as seekers, do have a personal experience with God, that is the best moment to ask those tough questions, to not let go, like the woman with the issue of blood [Matthew 9:20-22] or Jacob, as he wrestled the angel [Genesis 22:24-30]. Both of these people knew their time had come, their opportunity, to hold tight, to touch and encounter God.

When someone who does not know God has that initial epiphany, it’s as though God appears out of nowhere, and suddenly, their new found belief, brings God close, brings in the reality of Christ Jesus, and the Presence of the Holy Spirit. It’s an “aha!” moment. In those first flushed days, it is the easiest time to ask forgiveness, to surrender the sins and bad choices, to confess.

But later on, we become more closed and closeted, despite being faithful followers of God. It’s like running into someone you know . . . I mean, you know you know the person, you go to church together or you were at meetings together, and yet, no matter how hard you try, you can’t remember the person’s name. Do you confess that you don’t remember or fake it? That would be me, at least. I am too embarrassed to confess. And so I have been with my God, too embarrassed to review that same error in judgment, that same mistake, that same blasphemy. It’s not like God doesn’t know. But I am the one who cannot bear it. So, I open up the secret room and toss yet another “truth about me” inside and shut the door.

Jesus even taught that we are to forgive one another, not just seven times, but seventy times seven times [Matthew 18:22], symbolically meaning that forgiveness has no limits. Would God do less?

I say I am a seeker of the Christ and the fullness of the Spirit within, and yet, I withhold my truths and sins. When I do this, I am not seeking at all, but hiding, like Adam and Eve in the garden [Genesis 3:8]. God sought them. God is doing the same with me.

It’s so simple: when I seek, I find.

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What is the take away for doing something 40 days? Whether it’s in fasting or in temptation, there’s something here about forty days that should be considered, should be pursued. It’s a whole lot of waiting: more than five weeks of consideration. I wonder what would happen if I waited (prayed, contemplated, meditated) forty days before I initiated a plan or a major decision?

Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:12-13a; Luke 4:1-2a
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

There are other scriptural examples of 40 days: the flood (Genesis 7:17); Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:18; 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9); Spies in the Promised Land (Numbers 13:25); Goliath’s challenges (I Samuel 17:16); Elijah’s flight and fast (I Kings 19:18); Jonah warns Nineveh (Jona 3:4); Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection (Acts 1:3).

All of these 40 day increments are wrapped up with important events, usually before something major would happen.

So, let me put this in perspective (for myself, if nothing else). If I claimed this 40 day waiting period starting today, that would mean on Friday, September 14th, I could begin: I would know whether to go forward or not. If I seriously pursued my quest for those 40 days, I would know. It’s like a promise, I think.

Don’t misunderstand me. I get it that this period should be led of the Spirit and yet, I have a feeling. If I laid out my heart’s desire, my plan before God and then repeated my request each day, I believe I would have an answer. I would also have a bit of a struggle along the way. Based on the stories, a truly authentic 40 days is laden with challenges. Satan (or however you want to call that negative voice/power in our lives) tempted Jesus the whole time just like Goliath tempted the Israelites. Goliath mocked them and taunted them: Dare you! Double dare you to come out here and fight me (on his terms of course). Satan does the same thing. The forty day challenge puts the entire experience on God’s terms.

Apparently, 40 days are just long enough. They take the person just beyond that point we can do it on our own. Forty days include the extra mile.

What do I really want to know? What game-changing decision do I want to contemplate? What would be the best news ever?

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Photo by James Thobe

Peace is another word for God as is Light and Love and Jesus. I seek and I find and then I must pursue the next seeking and the next finding.

I Peter 3:11
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. [Psalm 34:14]

Through the course of this Lenten study on seeking, I have discovered that seeking is also asking, it’s an internal process, an acknowledgment of now and a need change, it’s humbling, it’s sowing, it’s trusting in both the process and the results, it’s repentance, it’s persistence and desire (as strong as thirst in the desert), and most of all, it’s learning to recognize the One who is sought. It’s a cycle of findings.

Like any other spiritual practice, it’s a discipline and requires both mindfulness and diffidence. This is a journey for the long haul. This is a lifelong practice.

I lose the sense of process so quickly along the way. My personality is one that prefers projects (beginning, middle, and END). I want to get there. I want to see the finish line so I know I’m going the right way.

But, alas, the walk of faith is not built this way. I know it in my head and yet, I keep trying to change the rules of engagement.

In nature, every season has a new challenge, it’s either too wet or too dry, too cold or too hot. Predators abound as do victims. Disease finds root and spreads. Death appears unyielding and potent, but then new life springs up with even more vigor, like new growth after a devastating forest fire.

Hope and faith are the fuel of seeking.

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At work, we have a lost and found box. It is usually brimming with “stuff” that people have left behind, some small but some of value. But most items languish, either the person doesn’t realize the thing is missing or more likely, where it went missing. They don’t even ask.

Luke 19:10
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

There’s a lost and found grid:

  1. We know something is lost and we know what it will look like to find it.
  2. We know something is lost but we don’t know what it will look like to find it.
  3. We don’t know something is lost but we will know it when we find it. . . maybe.
  4. We don’t know something is lost and we don’t know what it would look like anyway.

Where do you land on this grid? Where do I?

I have always been afraid of the last one: what if I am so clueless that I don’t realize I’m missing out on something important, something life-changing, something critical. That would be bad. This situation is the most difficult to reverse since no amount of talking or reasoning will bring revelation. Blown by the wind, anything might seem right in the moment. Some examples might be the mundane like church hopping or more serious, marriage hopping and affairs.

The third one is a state of mind and heart I know well. It manifests initially as a feeling, a gut feeling perhaps and a sense of discomfort in the present. I have no idea what is missing, if anything, I might just be imagining it, and yet, I sense that I will know when authentic thing, experience, person, situation breaks through. This situation is, unfortunately, unstable and bad choices are easily made here. (Reminds me of the old game show, Let’s Make a Deal, when the contestants often had the choice of keeping what they had in hand to something unknown behind “door number one, two, or three.)

The second scenario makes for a lot of experimentation. That is not always bad, but at the same time, when I’m in this mode, I tend to flit a bit, not giving myself or others a chance to really mature. I’ve always enjoyed personality assessment tests like the Meyers=-Briggs etc. But my favorite one is the Enneagram because the potential for change is inherent in the test unlike the others. Each type is given a number and the first time I discovered I was “7,” I was a little embarrassed. Although fun-loving and entertaining, sevens are also known for being a little shallow. Eek! Shallow? Perish the thought. And yet, I can see it in my past. To fight this tendency is to set aside times of deeper study and thought, literally forcing oneself to slow down and take time. This is how to pursue that elusive lost item. This is why I write.

And lastly, number one on the grid is the most aware person, the one who knows about loss and confidence that, once found, the hole will be filled in the heart, the ache will be soothed, the pain will be healed. What’s interesting to me is that even the enlightened experience loss. We all do. The difference is in the seeking.

So, where does Jesus fit into this equation? In real time, Jesus was the kind of person who could break through all four types. He brought an answer to the ones who sought and would recognize him immediately; he brought revelation to those were seeking but didn’t recognize the truth at first; he showed the ones who who didn’t realize they were lost a reality that could not be mistaken; and finally, he even broke through the ones who were blind and gave them sight.

Each miracle was a type for healing the heart. This will be my next study.

For today, I just thank you Lord for your revelation knowledge.

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I’ve always wondered about the sequencing of this verse: ask, seek, and knock. Each of these actions has a promise of success. Yes, but first there must be intent and choice, a decision to do something different.

Matthew 7:7
Ask and it [the good gifts] will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

When I ask, I am unsure about the present situation. I am curious about the possibilities. I am thinking that there might be a better way, a solution that is not immediately obvious. I am asking for information about the way to the good gifts, those things I may need in life to move forward. What do I need for my next step in life Lord? I’m just askin’.

When I seek, I am a little more sure of the end result. I’m thinking there is something specific that will improve my situation, that will bring clarity, that will meet my need. And I am encouraged to look. I have asked and I am getting the green light to go for it.

And finally, I am knocking for one of two reasons: I am announcing myself (I have arrived at the place of discovery). Or, I get there and I am facing an obstacle that I cannot move on my mind. It must be opened from the other side.

So what are the good gifts that are on the other side, at the end of my search, in the response to my questions?

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” [Matthew 7:9-11]

It’s in the moment, in the now, that thing or knowledge or revelation which is needful. And not before. The good gifts are not the luxuries of life. The good gifts are the perfect gifts, those which we cannot, in that instant, provide for ourselves.

What good gift do I need right now, sweet Jesus?

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Fabric on Wood by Shellie

God is not a moving target. I may feel like it sometimes, but in my heart, I know, it’s not a God-problem, it’s a “me” problem. I am the one fluctuating between sensitivity to God’s presence and isolationism. Solution: grab hold when my pendulum swings in close.

Isaiah 55:6
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.

None of us can expect to be on a mountaintop for long; it’s not realistic. No matter how wondrous the climb or ecstatic the view, the air is thin, food and water must be found and consumed, shelter a necessity: life goes on. I can’t expect my times in pure God awareness to be sustained either. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why ascetics, monks, or hermits disconnect themselves intentionally from the material world, it’s the only way to preserve that connection over a longer period. But even they must address their physical needs eventually. It’s part of being human.

That means, when I do have those moments of closeness to the Holy Spirit, when I do sense God nearby, I must cherish that time. I must be alert: awake! To chart those waters, I must look and listen (with inner eyes and ears). And remember!

This is why I journal, why I blog, to help me remember that moment, that revelation or epiphany. Otherwise, those understandings disappear into the ether of my subconscious. There, but not there, not easily accessible.

Mark the time. Mark the day. Catch the petals in the wind.

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We live in a society of relativism. And this relativism gives permission for a wide range of beliefs and behaviors. On the other hand, there are groups of people who believe they have Truth and find nothing ironic in those truths colliding, creating wars, prejudice, and hate. Where is Truth in that?

Isaiah 45:19
I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.

God’s truth is constantly being manipulated by Human. The Bible, in all of its truth, has been written by human beings, interpreted, and applied conveniently. And really, so have all of the sacred texts, from Qur’an to the Bhagavad Gita. We can all claim divine inspiration, God speaking through the hands that wrote the words down, but, in the end, truth may still elude us.

“God is Spirit and his worshipers must worship God in spirit and in truth.” [John 4:24]

All faiths, in the end, must do the same for this Spirit.

To seek God is to seek Truth and it’s bigger than a single belief, a single banner, a single slogan. It is broad and it is narrow. Truth is the ultimate paradox, encompassing all and nothing. Truth exists with or without me because God is.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” [I Corinthians 13:12]

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