“…seek, and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7)
Have you ever had an experience where you know you put something in a spot, but when you go to find it again, it’s not there? You begin to search then, more frantically, checking other possible spots but as you come up empty time and time again, you continue back to the spot where you were sure it was in the first place, only to find it still not there. It’s a frustrating experience to say the least.
Spiritual seeking can be this same way. Once we have asked for God’s help in something, we begin to look for ways in which he is helping. But, much like searching for a misplaced item, we become so busy looking for him to reveal himself to us in the ways that we expect we quickly forget that God has his own process for helping us, and that it may appear differently than we imagined.
When we do not see nor receive what we are expecting, it can be frustrating. It takes patience and persistence to broaden our vision, to “open our eyes and see” (2 Kings 6:20). Much like a misplaced item, spiritual seeking requires us to be willing to retrace our steps and try, try again. Often, we must change our expectations and open ourselves to the possibility that what we are looking for may be revealed to us in a way very different from what we were expecting.
I find it interesting that Luke and Matthew tell almost identical word-for-word stories of Jesus’ “ask, seek, knock” instruction, but lead up to that sequence with different events. Matthew opens in Chapter 7 with Jesus warning us of the danger of judging others. In his version Jesus asks, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not see the log in your own?” (Matthew 7:3) Luke on the other hand, starts his chapter with the apostles asking Jesus about proper prayer and Jesus teaches them not only how to pray, but also how we need to be persistent in our prayer (Luke 11:1-13).
So, whose version are we to believe? Is the “ask, seek, knock” instruction meant to curb us from judgment or is it meant to strengthen our resolve? The obvious answer, of course, is both! Our ego can easily blind us from seeing things that are so clearly in front of us. In my experience, it is always my ego that is the log in my eye. There have been times where I have been so focused on how I would open arms in reconciling with another, that I fail to see that they, too, have open arms and are waiting for me to make the first move. Or, I have at times become so focused on my charitable work for others, that I fail to see my own family suffering as a result of my charitable over commitments (at which point it is arguably no longer “charity” but a distraction from my primary ministry in life: that of wife and mother). The list goes on and on.
One thing is clear though, if we are seeking God to join us our lives in any way—large or small– we must be willing to look beyond our own ego for Him in places we did not expect and to not give up the search. Because much like a lost possession, unless we do both, the only thing we can be sure of is that we will never find it.