What should your heart be set on once you give your life to the Lord? Is it keeping the commandments? going to church? an active prayer life? acts of service? Those are all good things, but they should be a side-effect of our primary focus. In other words, they’ll happen because we want to keep the Law, fellowship with other believers, pray, and serve when our hearts are in the right place.
In Christopher West’s book Fill these Hearts, he quotes mid-twentieth century artist and writer Caryll Houselander as saying, “If instead of using the expression ‘spiritual life’ we used ‘the seeking,’ we should set out from the beginning and go on to the end with a clearer idea of what our life with God will be on this earth” (56). Our conversion isn’t a static state. It’s a continuous search for closeness with God.
Why is is that we have to seek God? He could just make Himself easy to find and then stay accessible after we first encounter Him, but it doesn’t seem to work like that. Sometimes, it even appears He’s abandoned us entirely, in spite of such promises as “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
There must be something about the act of seeking God that’s essential to faith. Think about the things in your life that were easy to get. How much do you value them? You probably didn’t wake up this morning thankful there was air in the room. If it started disappearing, though, I guarantee you’d go seeking a source of oxygen. We don’t value things, even if they’re essential for survival, when they’re in abundant supply.
Forgiveness, the “kingdom of heaven,” eternal life with God, a place in His family — all that is offered freely through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23). But though these promises are freely given, they’re not like air that’s all around for us to breath in without effort. God’s promises must be sought and, when found, valued so highly that you’re willing to give up everything else.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matt. 13:44-46)
Sin separates people from God, but He promises if “thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deut. 4:29, KJV). With the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our seeking need never be in vain. Complete reconciliation between man and God is possible if we come to God believing “that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
Choosing to Seek
Before he died, King David told his son Solomon, “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God” (2 Chr. 22:19). Seeking God is a choice we each must make within our innermost selves.
O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. (Ps. 63:1-2)
God always responds to genuine seeking. It might not be in our preferred timing, but it will happen. Even David, who penned the Psalm we just quoted, felt forsaken and angry with God (Ps. 22:1-2). He kept seeking, though, and developed a relationship with God that has testified to other believers throughout the ages. And this sort of relationship isn’t something God only offers the “Bible big-shots.” It’s open to each of us.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer. 29:11-13)
God wants to do good things in our lives. He longs for us to seek Him and to be found. “Ask, and it will be given to you,” Jesus says, “seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7). That’s a promise and an invitation to every believer.
What God Seeks
The Seeking in our Christian walk is not one-sided. God seeks those who seek Him. His eyes are constantly searching the earth for “those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chr. 16:9). He is seeking those who will worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). It’s not just perfect people who catch God’s eye, though.
Jesus said He came to this earth “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Because God’s people broke their covenant with Him, Jesus divested Himself of divinity and took on earthy form to seek us, to save us, and to die for us. That’s how important seeking us is to God.
For thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day. … I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick” (Ezk. 34: 11-12, 16)
The shepherding imagery is again brought up in the gospels. The parable of the lost sheep compares God to a shepherd who will put himself in danger to seek out even one sheep that wandered off, and then rejoice greatly when he finds it (Matt. 18:12-14). We’re never too insignificant or too lost for God to give up on seeking us, so let’s not give up on seeking Him.