Language often has a way of either helping or hindering us in life. For example, when I read what the prophet Jeremiah wrote, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart, (29:13) my mind immediately translates the passage in such a way that I sense a need to chase God if I want to find Him.
Striving, is a word that comes to mind…but striving is not what Jeremiah is really saying. My mind and body often strive, but my heart works on a completely different plane. The heart, or the seat of my soul, is a feeling, sensing, experiential part of who I am. To seek God with all my heart is really a call to allow myself to be loved by a mysterious, un-catchable, and un-tameable God.
Perhaps our problem with experiencing God in real-time is that we are trying to chase Him down with our intellect, and grab ahold of Him with our hands, which is utterly impossible, because God, who is Spirit, is always beyond our imagining, and able to break free from any human hold.
In a paradoxical way, the path to a God-encounter is to be caught and loved…this is a dependent act of receiving… not winning or earning.
There is an ancient story entitled "The Little Fish" that speaks to this journey:
"Excuse me," said an ocean fish.
"You are older than I, so
can you tell me where to find
this thing they call the ocean?"
"The ocean," said the older fish," is the thing
you are in now."
"Oh, this? But this is water. What I'm seeking
is the ocean," said the disappointed fish
as he swam away to search elsewhere.
Very often, the God who loves you, the God you so long to know and encounter is surrounding you, but instead of simply seeing Him, we wrongly assume we must chase Him…a God that can simply be seen can't possible be the One, we misguidedly think. So we rush off again in search of the God who is always there.
There is another story about a person in search of God who encounters a traveling holy man. The seeker said to the holy man, "For years I have been searching for God. I have looked for Him everywhere that people have told me that He can be found: on the peaks of mountains, the loneliness of the desert, the silence of the cloister, and in the company of the poor."
"Have you found Him?" the master asked.
"No I have not. Have you?"
What could the holy man say? The evening sun was sending shafts of golden light into the room. Hundreds of sparrows were twittering on a nearby tree. In the distance you could hear the hum of people experiencing life together. A mosquito buzzed near warning that it would soon strike…And yet this man could sit in the same sounds and experiences and say he had not found God.
After a while, the seeker left, disappointed, to search elsewhere.
Have you been frustrated in your pursuit of God? Have you been searching everywhere people have told you to search but still haven't found what your looking for?
Maybe it's time to learn the lesson of the Little Fish…There isn't anything to look for, all you need to do is simply look, then you will finally see.
The God who is there is found not with your eyes or your hands, but your heart.