Friday, January 27, 2012

‘Finding God’

From time to time we hear of someone declaring, “I found God,” as if He were lost, missing, a needle in a haystack, or even playing hide-and-seek.

Whether it’s a friend, relative, or even a famous person saying it, I understand what’s meant. It’s kind of like saying, “You ought to go to this cute little shop I found,” or “I found such a great deal at the grocery store today!” It was there all the time; we just discovered it. Similarly, those who announce they “found God” mean they have had a life-altering encounter with the Almighty they never imagined.

The Bible speaks about seeking – and finding – God. For instance, Isaiah 55:6 instructs us, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” In 1 Chronicles 28:9 we are assured, “If you seek him, he will be found by you.” And Psalm 105:4 exhorts, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

But experience has taught me God does most of the finding. We can run from Him – as I did for most of my first 30 years – but when we stop running, we realize He’s been right there all the time.

British poet Francis Thompson captured this idea in his 182-line poem, “The Hound of Heaven,” written in the late 1800s. Thompson explains even though he tried to flee, he could not evade God’s love and pursuit, “those strong feet that followed…with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace….”

The history of God with His people is of being the seeker, demonstrating lavish love, grace and mercy to disobedient and rebellious men, women and children. In Luke 19:10, speaking of Himself, Jesus declared, the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

In Luke 15, Jesus told three stories – known as the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost (or prodigal) son – to convey how zealously God seeks His own.

My point isn’t to dive in over my head theologically, but to affirm a sometimes-forgotten aspect of the “Good News.” Even when we don’t want Him around, when we’re set on going our own way, God is there, waiting and watching, much like a parent keeping careful watch over a young, headstrong child.

Long before Thompson conjured the image of the Hound of Heaven, David wrote a psalm along the same lines: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there…” (Psalm 139:7-8).

If we view God as a meddler, intruder, or divine spoilsport, that might not sound like good news. But it is – because no matter how far we stray, no matter how much we veer off course, we can be assured the Lord will always be there, ready to embrace when we return to Him.

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