Always searching, but never finding. Life can feel that way sometimes, can’t it?
Judging from what I’ve seen and heard from the restless hearts I am around as well as the sometimes hidden whispers of my own, I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen what we have hoped to find much of the time. Can I suggest that if we think we haven’t found what we’re looking for in God – quite simply, we haven’t? That feeling of elusive purpose is a gift from the Purpose Giver to entice us into a bigger story. That is such good news for a hungry heart that has the hidden whisper, “There must be more than this.”
I have found that we can never out hope, out love, out give, or out dream God. He is more than enough to fulfill every deep longing of our hearts. Whether we’re a stay at home mom or working three jobs, whether we’re a doctor or scrubbing toilets at McDonald’s, whether we’re a tenth generation Believer or trying to find our way in this new world of God and faith, whether we’re single or married, whether our home is filled with children or there are none – He truly is all we need. We don’t need a vocation change, although sometimes that will happen. We don’t need to move, but that could happen too when we actually find the heart of the One we’re looking for.
He has a way of changing our desires to match His. Can I suggest that the ‘what’ – the fulfillment, the purpose, the dreams – are all wrapped around a ‘Who’ and that is God. He is the One we really want and desire. It is in Him alone that we will find rest from the restlessness that invades the lives of all social statuses and every human being that has ever lived. The restlessness is His gift of love to let us know that we haven’t actually found Him in the way He wants to be found. He wants to be all to us and only from that place will we be free of the ever present restlessness.
In our culture we are obsessed with finding our purpose, following our dreams and finding ‘it’ whatever ‘it’ is. Even in the church world many of us are burdened with the sense that we must find ‘God’s call’ on our life or His purpose. Often in seeking this, it becomes a god or idol in itself. We devote our lives to finding that, rather than Him. What we are doing is never enough and yet we don’t know what to do. We jump from attending more church functions, doing more activities, doing more good and eventually find ourselves burned out, stressed out and undone – content once again to just live life.
What we sometimes don’t understand is that we are looking for life and we won’t find it in the wrong places. The problem is that we actually think we are looking in the right places or else we wouldn’t be looking there, right? We think that because we are looking in religious places or places we think are spiritual or good we are looking in the places where fulfillment and purpose is found. For sure, God has a mission for us and something much greater than our own story that we are called to, but when we seek that in itself rather than Him, it will not satisfy and it will never be what He had imagined.
May I suggest something? Just like the world looks for life in worldly things, the church world also often looks for life in the churchy things. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of those things are very good, but they were never meant to replace Him. Our hearts weren’t made for good things, our hearts were made for The Good One. Our hearts weren’t made to serve a dream or vision. Our hearts were made for the Dream Giver. Our hearts weren’t made for religious duty. Our hearts were made for the Intimate One. Our hearts weren’t made to heal or for powerful demonstrations. Our hearts were made for the Healer and Life Giver. When our hearts have found Him, those things will be the result, but those things are not the goal. Our purpose is Him, the mission is His that we get to join in on.
Doing more will never result in being more. We get things kind of backwards sometimes. We think that the results of walking with God are what we’re looking for, but He is not a means to an end. He is the end. When our focus is the dream, the results, goodness, or anything other than Him we will always come up empty handed because those things were never meant to satisfy a hungry heart. When we are finding our satisfaction in Him alone, He will surely change our passions and desires to match His. As we fully satisfy ourselves in Him we will not be able to help but dream His dreams, minister restoration even as we are continually restored, and see the purposes He has for our lives fulfilled.
When our hearts are linked to Him in intimacy, we begin to hear His whispers where we never could have heard them before. So often we’re looking for the big directions and we overlook the small things. Those places He has invited to join Him in on a daily basis. Everyday. The things that on their own seem small, but linked to the larger stories that He is writing in the lives around us, are so much more than we could ever see. I still miss many invitations, but am starting to hear more. My favorite stories are the ones where God works in a daily life to demonstrate His heart. I love to hear them from my friends and from other fellow travelers. Places where God uses a seemingly ordinary moment and small thing to communicate to a hidden thought in a heart.
“That rocking chair at the garage sale over there? Go buy it for your sister-in-law.” “Bring flowers to __________ for no reason other than I want her to know that I love her and see her.” “Your child needs_____ from you today.” “I know you are tired, but don’t hurry into your house tonight. Walk over to the neighbor’s to really visit. She needs to see Me.” “Pay for that person’s drink behind you in the drive-thru.” “See that mom over there? Go encourage her.” “Pray __________ for ___________. They need Me right now.” “See that lady who is fumbling for money to pay for her groceries? Hand her some money and smile at her. Do not ignore her.”
With a lot of these stories, I have no idea what God was doing. I imagine it is a small piece of a very large puzzle in an larger story. Some of these stories are ones where I was privileged to see God’s hand clearly, like the one with the rocking chair.
My sister-in-law, who was living in Turkey as a missionary, was close to coming home on furlough. Just that morning, she had a faint thought go through her mind that she would love a rocking chair to rock her precious baby in. No one knew she wanted one. Just God. She told me that she just had a passing thought that wasn’t even a prayer. That same day, I felt compelled to buy the chair at the garage sale down the street I had passed several times before without a thought. God in His kindness wanted to demonstrate that He knew and loves to satisfy some of our most hidden desires and I was an unsuspecting player in that story with no idea of the larger and beautiful love He was demonstrating. I don’t know who was more excited – my sister-in-law or me. I was moved by the fact that God sees those hidden things and in the midst of the chaos that is our world, He cares about a hidden desire for a rocking chair.
When our heart is oriented towards Him – simply Him, we will not be able to help but fulfill the purposes He has for us because we will hear Him. Fulfillment, joy and all of those things we hear about surrounding the Believer’s life are by-products of having our hearts oriented towards Him. Walking daily with Him will always result in a life that is full of purpose. In seeking Him, our purposes will be fulfilled. We can seek our purpose and never find it. The promise is that we can’t seek Him and not find Him.
Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Jeremiah 29:13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
**Photo credit By Doris Antony, Berlin (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons