“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”- Jeremiah 29:13
I’m awesome with routine. My spiritual checklist is almost always, if not all the time, neatly marked off. I read my Bible, pray and listen to sermons everyday. But if I’m completely honest with myself, as of late, seeking God has not really been my intent when I “seek God”. That’s kind of confusing, I know, but stay with me.
You know that cliche quote….”going through the motions”? I hate cliches, but this one hits the nail on the head. My intentions behind my bible reading and prayer lately have not been so much to find and soak in the presence of God, but I think more of an attempt to attain just enough peace and sanity to get me through my day…. and to keep myself guilt-free, of course. There’s nothing wrong wanting peace and sanity, in and of themselves, but what I’m saying is that those things shouldn’t be the primary motivating force behind why we read the bible or why we pray. Yes, we gain peace in praying. And yes, renewing our minds in the Word keeps our heads on straight in this crazy world. But a lot of people from many different religions perform these same activities with the same intentions.
We, as Christians, should seek out God….. because we know He is the true, living God.
I think I have allowed the dullness of my heart to short-change me. God is indescribably massive, incomprehensibly generous, and intentionally desirous of me… there is so much of Him for me to behold and He’s willing to give it to me… but I’ve been cruising through most of my days on auto-pilot, satisfied with what I’ve got.
- Satisfied with the amount of His presence that I’ve got.
- Satisfied with the amount of knowledge I’ve got.
- Satisfied with the amount of wisdom I’ve got.
- Satisfied with the amount of love that I’ve got.
……….Satisfied with the amount of God that I’ve got.
If you asked me if I was satisfied in any of these areas, I would sincerely and with conviction tell you, “In no way!” But deep down I know differently. The Lord has blessed me with an enormous amount of free time, and how do I use it? Watching netflix, facebook stalking and refreshing my twitter feed every 3 minutes, just to name a few. Oh, but I of course make sure I get my [minimal amount of] reading and prayer in first! I’m such a good Christian, huh? Wrong. I may be good at behavior modification and I probably surpass most in religious devout-ness, but following Jesus isn’t so much about what you do, but where your heart is at in the things you do.
I can hear it now… “Oh, Matt… the poor thing is always self-loathing and hating himself”… I assure you, I’m not. I am eternally loved by God. He values me, cherishes me and even wants me. In these things I may waiver in my assurance of at times, like we all do, but nonetheless I do know them to be fact. So rather than hating myself for my short comings, I rejoice when the Lord shows them to me! I am grateful beyond words that He even allows me to see this laxity in my walk with Him. In His love for me He’s showing me how low I’m settling. I have so much time on my hands, and spend a minority of it doing anything pertaining to the Lord. It’s like I think, “Well, I’m saved. I’m going to Heaven. And now I guess I’ll just wait.”…but God is not running out of Himself to give away. He’s not in limited supply. There’s so much more of Him to seize, right now! So much more of His presence to walk in, right now!
This last half-year of life is starting to make much more sense now as I sit here and write this out. I’ve not been fighting sin like I should, but rather succumbing to it’s seduction on an all too regular basis. My heart has been dry, and my soul been quenched with thirst… but I’ve been too caught up in my self-made religion (where I do just enough “seeking”to not feel guilty) to even realize it. Because I haven’t been chasing after God with my whole heart, my flesh does what comes natural and chases after created things to satisfy my thirst. But as we all know, nothing satisfies like God does. Nothing satisfies like the real, tangible, soul-permeating Spirit of God does.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”- Psalm 51:12
I say all this to point out one thing. Although my pursuit of God has been nearly non-existent, and my sinful behavior on the rise….. God has still pursued me. I wouldn’t have even realized any of this if God was not pursuing me (might I add, without me giving Him a reason to). Because of Jesus’ words, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…”, along with the entire counsel of Scripture, we know that before we ever even had the desire to come to God, it was He that pursued us. He chased after, sought out and grabbed hold of us to give us the true life that we didn’t even know existed. But what I just realized, in a more real way, anyway, is that He continues to pursue us…. diligently, constantly, passionately. Our indifference, defiance and laziness toward Him doesn’t deter Him…. but rather is the backdrop by which He demonstrates even more gloriously His grace and goodness toward us. We know that “God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”….. but do we realize that God presently loves us and continues to chase after us? How much clearer is this portrayed than in Jesus’ own words about the one sheep straying away from the other 99? The shepherd goes after the one sheep… and I would venture to say, He would go after that one sheep even if it strayed away 1,000 more times. He will go after that sheep until the sheep learns how beneficial it is to stay on the heels of his Shepherd…. until that sheep sees the safety, love and security he has in the presence of the Shepherd.
To the believing, born-again, regenerate Christian: God is after you, in a good way, at all times. Nothing you can do or neglect to do will change that. His grace doesn’t waiver or extinguish itself.
Earlier today, Tullian Tchividijian tweeted about a conversation he had with a random stranger. It went something like this:
Random Guy: “But grace isn’t how the world works.”
Tullian: “That’s because grace isn’t from this world.”