Archive | August 2015

Searching for answers…or searching for Him?

Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

 

In this age we live in, and especially our culture, we’re taught to question people, circumstances and situations.  There’s the five “W’s”, Who, What, Where, When and the most famous Why used by children everywhere.  “Why is the sky blue?”  “Why can’t I have that?”  “Why can’t I sleep over at my friend’s house?”  If you have children or have been around them for more than five minutes, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  We think we grow out of that, but actually we don’t.  Maybe we don’t ask every question we have out loud, but we ask.  We’re searching for answers, working to understand causes and effects and we’re told that to learn we must ask.  In fact, I can resolve many disagreements with my husband over where we’ve seen that actor before by pulling out my phone and just “Googling” for the information.  Viola!  Disagreement resolved, we now know the answer and who is right and who was wrong.

Yesterday the Holy Spirit asked me this question, “Are you searching for answers or are you searching for your Heavenly Father’s heart and the face of Jesus?”  My first thought was, of course I’m searching for You God, haven’t you read my journal, this blog?  Haven’t you heard all my prayers where I tell you I’m seeking and searching for you?  Then low and behold, and to my great surprise, I saw the motive of much of my seeking and searching…I was looking for answers.  I’ve been chasing after trying to understand what God is doing, why He’s doing it, what He’s doing, what that means for me and WHEN will I know?!  The foundation of most, although not all, of my searching was anchored in trying to figure something out.

I’d like to be sure and say that God has no problem with us wanting to know things or about things.  Like I mentioned, children our innately curious and they are supposed to be, we are supposed to be.  But here, I believe, is the issue, when the focus of our search is about getting all our questions answered vs. being satisfied with Him even if we never get the answer to the why or the where or the what or the when or the who.  I’m convinced that because of God’s question that we covered in my last post, “Where were you?” and the revelation that much of God for us right now is far beyond our human ability to understand, that the Holy Spirit was able to ask this next question, “Are you searching for answers or are you truly searching for me?”…and I could recognize the difference.  I don’t know what all I need to do to be what He’s created me to do and be.  If I’m honest with myself, I don’t really even know the right questions to ask.  But this I do know, if I set my heart to search for Him, to know Him, to make Him the focus of my quest, He will answer my unasked questions with exactly the right answer.

Here’s an example in the Bible that caught my attention a couple of weeks ago and captured the longings I’ve been having.  It’s in 2 Chronicles 20 and King Jehoshaphat has just heard that the armies of the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Meunites were coming against him and that they were a great multitude.  As you can imagine the first thing that hit King Jehoshaphat was fear but then he did something really interesting, here’s what the Bible tells us in the Amplified version, 2 Chorinthians 20:3(a) Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord(emphasis mine).  That phrase, as his vital need, has been stuck in my heart for a bit now.  I’ve also been captured by what it says in verse 4 And Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord [yearning for Him with all their desire] (emphasis mine).  Yearning for Him with all their desire.

Again, I find that very intriguing.  Why you may ask (no pun intended there!!).  Here’s why.  They had a desperate situation, they really needed some guidance and answers or they were going to be slaughtered with a capital “S”, but the Bible doesn’t record any normal questions like, “Why is this happening to us?”, “Where are You God?”, or “What did I do wrong?”.  The Bible lays this out as a very succinct action to a set of scary circumstances.  King Jehoshaphat gets the news and the natural emotion of fear rises up, but unlike how I have usually dealt with a scary set of circumstances he immediately and determinedly as his vital need sets himself to seek the Lord.  Then he calls his people and they begin to seek the Lord, not described as to get answers, although they are going to ask questions, but their intent is yearning for Him with all of their desire.  That was what was at the heart of that question to me, was I more interested in getting an answer I felt I needed or understanding to something I didn’t understand or was I truly looking to set my Heavenly Father as my vital need and yearning for Him with all of my desire?  As I saw my motives I saw I wanted answers.  But how can we know if we’re wanting God first?  Let’s look at what King Jehoshaphat and the assembly of Judah did:

2 Chronicles 20:5-12 (AMP) – And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord before the new court  And said, O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You. Did not You, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?  They dwelt in it and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your Name, saying,  If evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You—for Your Name [and the symbol of Your presence] is in this house—and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.  And now behold, the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they turned from and did not destroy— Behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not exercise judgment upon them? For we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think most of us pray like that in a situation like this.  King Jehoshaphat spends the majority of the first part of the prayer reminding himself, his people and God who God is.  They are phrased as questions but they are rhetorical because they know and God knows that the answer to each of these is “Yes”.  I also noticed there’s not a single, Why, again just a statement of the facts, although it sounds like King Jehoshaphat may be wondering why God stopped them from invading when they had the chance, but regardless he gets back to the heart of the matter…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.  Boy, don’t you love that?

So let’s break this down, because I believe that if we can get what they did here to become the way we are chasing after God, we will see the majority of our anxiety, frustration and fear take a backseat to faith, confidence and security.  First, they had a serious problem and one that God could have kept from happening if He would have let them invade these enemies when they originally had the opportunity.  Secondly, like every one of us, the first response was the natural human reaction, fear.  But unlike most of us, King Jehoshaphat in this third step did something amazing, he determined that he was going to seek God in this as his vital need.  Once he did that, fourthly he pulled together the rest of his people and together they, yearning for Him with all of their desire, sought the Lord.  AND THEN King Jehoshaphat prayed his questions.  This is what I see, he and they searched God first and then they laid out their needs and even in that King Jehoshaphat reminded himself, his people and God who God is and not even in it’s own sentence does he tell God he doesn’t know what to do, no he ends the sentence with …but our eyes are upon You.  Wow, that is just powerful!

So how does it end?  I’m so glad you asked.  Here is what God said in response to their prayer, 15 He (God) said, Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s (emphasis mine).  God tells them, “I’ve got this!”  If you read the rest of the chapter (and please do, read the whole thing!!) He gives them some instructions and the next morning they went where God told them, they focused on God’s mercy and loving-kindness and sang and praised the Lord and the armies of the enemies turned on themselves and wiped themselves out…AND it took three days for the tribe of Judah to collect all of the spoils.  Hoorah!  Guess what, I don’t want to ask my questions and search for answers over my searching for Him anymore.  I want to set God as my vital need, I want to remind myself of who He is, I want to make my requests known and I want to listen, obey and let Him do His thing!  Here’s the reminder that I needed, He is the answer.  The great I AM is the answer to every question I ask or don’t even know to ask and if I do like King Jehoshaphat and the tribe of Judah did, make Him my vital need and go after Him with all my desire, I already have all the answers I need.

 

A Daughter’s Prayer and This Post’s Resource:  It seems to me that the more we come to know our Heavenly Father’s character the easier it is to search for Him vs. answers.  Here’s a song that’s helping me focus on that and I can’t pray it any better than this!!