At the heart of it all most of us are seekers, don’t you think? It might be something tangible like financial security and personal achievement, or else something a little more difficult to define, deeper matters of purpose and truth; but I think it can be safely said that we’re all looking for something. It’s simply part of our human condition; and I dare say that some of us are pretty intense about that search.
I’m reminded, for instance, of a young man I knew back in college, with whom I worked on the campus newspaper. As college students are often wont to do, he would choose philosophies the way other people select melons in the produce aisle of the supermarket! He would take some idea or another and proceed to squeeze it, poke it, thump it and hold it up to the light, weighing it against other ideas and literally cataloging all its particular virtues and drawbacks before setting it aside and moving on to the next idea or proposition, which in turn would undergo the same kind of intensive scrutiny.
My friend was engaged in the search for some ultimate meaning in life; though I’m not sure that after all was said and done he ever found it. You see, the thing about being a seeker of truth is that a whole lot of the time in that process you’re groping about in the darkness; and even if from time to time you’re able to grab hold of something that might seem great at the moment, all too often it turns out to be far less than it first appeared. And so you end up back on the journey, out amidst the darkness searching and reaching for something else, something more that’s real and lasting; something you know is out there, but what you can’t really name.
That’s why it is good news indeed that amidst all our seeking, it turns out that God is searching as well… for you and me!
One of the images that keeps cropping up in our exploration of the UCC Statement of Faith during worship these past few Sundays has been that of a God of Action; that is, the truth that from the very beginning of creation and continuing throughout history, our God has never been content to have a relationship with us that is distant, unmoving and unfeeling; an “absentee landlord,” so to speak, who stays far removed from his creation. No; our God deeply desires the best for his creation; and sets before us the ways of life and death that we might be assured of every blessing we’re given. Our God is determined to bring us along good pathways even when we, in turn, have the tendency to reject all God wishes to give us.
And therein lays one of the great truths of our Christian faith; which we see very clearly in the person of Jesus the Savior, the one who was and is the very embodiment of God, sent to seek and to save the lost. Why do you think that Jesus told a story about the shepherd who went to great lengths out in the wilderness to find just one – one – sheep out of a hundred? Again and again in the gospels, in Jesus we encounter a God who constantly seeks us out, who reaches in to the dark places where we dwell and grabs us, pulls us up and puts our feet on a new pathway: a God who will not relent in his search until we are found!
So for those of us who do find ourselves on that desperate search for ultimate meaning in life, it’s a comfort to know that even as we grope around in the darkness, God is just as intently seeking us; and a true blessing to know that whether we’ve realized it or not, he’s already found us; and that perhaps, even now, this God of Action is doing everything possible to get our attention: pushing us, needling us, coaxing us out of our warm beds to face the new day for the sake of something special. William H. Willimon says it well when he urges us to “notice those little coincidences in [our lives], those strange happenings, and those thoughts that you find you have difficulty putting into the context of other thoughts. Perhaps all of this is part of God’s continuing attempts at enticement.”
“So keep looking over your shoulder as you go though life,” Willimon concludes. “Keep being attentive to the strange little things, the odd, glorious things that happen to you.” It could well be that today God’s long search is over… because you’ve been found at last!
c. 2013 Rev. Michael W. Lowry