This week's post comes from Chad Burrus in the department of bioinformatics. Chad writes on reminding oneself to seek God. Great post, Chad!
One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few months can be summed up in one simple statement: you usually can’t find what you’re not looking for. Random? Maybe, but then again, I’m a bit of a random person. But think about it for a second–what do you have in life that you can find without looking/seeking/reaching out for? Forget about the purely physical things you look for on a daily basis like your pen/bag/planner/keys/etc., and the random quarter you find on the street, and definitely forget about the random birthday card you’ve got hidden away under a pile of work–those things don’t count. I’m talking about the things that are harder to find–purpose, friendship, connection with God…that kind of thing. How many times in life do we see these things given to us on a silver platter?
All the champions of faith that I can think of are people who sought God some time in their lives, and then continued to do so, lending truth to the idea that faith is a journey or a process, as we (or at least I) have been told so many times and in so many ways. But that very fact of a journey implies movement, activity, and growth, i.e., that we’ve got to work for it, at least a little. To truly know God, we have to seek him. The problem?
I’m the type of person that likes to lose sight of things that aren’t blatantly shoved back in my face every once in a while. (Sounds like I’m human, yes?) Those things that aren’t just kind of float to the side like a leaf on the wind. That’s all too often true for those intangibles in life–they get lost in the clutter of the here-and-now, the visible and the physical. To steal an idea from a productivity guru I read once–the invisibles are important, but they’re not always urgent. We need to do them, but we don’t always have to do them now, and so they sometimes get lost in the shuffle until they are urgent.
Think about the last time you went through a major change in your life–moving to a new place, starting a new job, or graduating from school (some things more than a few of us are facing in the next couple of weeks)–something like that, or maybe all of them. What do you do right before the change occurs? You meet with friends to reminisce, you collect addresses and phone numbers from the people you won’t be seeing much (or at least look them up on Facebook if you haven’t already), you make peace with some of the people you’ve had conflicts with–all the little things that we know we should do all along in our relationships, but often don’t until there’s something to force us into doing them.
God is like that for me, sometimes. Well, maybe all the time. I don’t see (in the physical/literal sense) him, and so I forget about him. He’s there, watching from the background, but not usually in the foreground except during those times where I think I need help, or company, or just someone to talk things out with, and when you let it go far enough down this path, you tend to avoid looking for him at all until you wonder why you can’t find him anymore when you do need him. (At least I do.) Or you let doubts and fears and questions lead you to a place where you don’t want to find him, and so for you, he’s not there. (Been there too.)
In either case (and probably some others I haven’t thought of yet), you’ve basically stopped the search. There’s an elephant in the room that you can sort of sense if you think about it, but why think about it? You’ve got better, more important, more urgent things to think about–places to go, people to see, things to do. Or you’re content with the limited aspects of the thing you’ve found, and wonder, “Why search anymore? This that I’ve found is good enough.”
And so, in the fullness of time when you begin to realize there’s a hole in your life somewhere, you end up with three choices:
1. You ignore it and move on, being content to be holey and not whole. (Not usually recommended.) Or:
2. You ignore it and move on, hoping that things will magically take care of themselves. (Not usually recommended either.) Or:
3. You start looking for something to fill it.
That’s a part of the reason I’m thinking about seeking things lately–I’ve been making the first two choices way too much in recent years, and it’s past time to try out the third.