April 19, 2014

Seek God’s face

Sometimes I call it a “grocery list” a name that reflects a list of ‘gimmes’ or things I want God to do for me. Very often these requests do not reflect faith in God’s provision, but an anxiety that God is not going to take care of me. However, Jesus says . . .

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31–34)

I know what it means to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, yet today’s devotional reading uses this verse and tells me to seek more of God Himself. This goes deeper than any other ‘gimme’ on my list.

The Bible has many injunctions to do seek God, such as “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” (Psalm 119:2–3) and “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2)

How does a person seek God? What does it look like? Hebrews 11:6 says if anyone wants to “draw near to God” that person “must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

This indicates a need for faith, but also suggests that God is able to make Himself known to those whose hearts are set on knowing Him. How can this be described? On a human level, I’ve tried to get to know people who didn’t want to be known. They would not talk about themselves or tell me what they liked and didn’t like, what their hopes were, and what they thought about anything, never mind if they cared or not about having a relationship with me or anyone else.

God is not like that. He invites interaction and intimacy. He bids me come to Him and tell Him all about whatever is on my heart. However, He also tells me about Himself. Seeking Him mainly involves reading what He has revealed in His Word. While I can seek the hand of God in His world and see His incredible creativity, I can also see the mess that humanity has made of it. I can also see the heart of God in His people. Christians do reflect the Lord Jesus Christ, not perfectly but sometimes with loving clarity. Yet we are sinners all, and that reflection can be muddied by sin and a disappointment if we exclusively seek God in that way.

Hughes suggests prayer. As I talk to God, He establishes an intimacy that goes far beyond being like a genie in a bottle. His Word says He inhabits the praises of His people. Lately, I’ve been spending much more time praising God with choruses and offering Him thanks for His goodness.

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! (Psalm 105:1–4)

Praise and thanksgiving are Christian disciplines. While they come more easily to some than others, both take practice, particularly when life goes sideways. Yet by directing my thoughts away from my ‘gimme’ list and toward Him when I pray, He makes me more aware of His presence. While He is not ‘visible’ to my eyes, His face becomes more visible to my heart.

No comments: