The prophet Jeremiah records a letter he sent to the exiles while they were in Babylon. The purpose of the letter was to remind them that God had not forgotten them nor abandon them there. It can be difficult to imagine how the Israelite people must’ve felt to receive that letter. They had been in captivity for many years, struggling to make sense of how God would deliver them out of the hand of their captors.
In one section of the letter Jeremiah offers to them these words:
12 “then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations in all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will ring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”Jeremiah 29:12-14 ESV
Throughout the Scriptures, there are instances where God encourages his people to seek him. The idea of searching is an encouragement to be actively engaged in the process of understanding what God is calling his people to. When we remain passive in our understanding of the faith we miss out on an important element of what it means to be followers of God. That element, stated simply, is the idea of journeying with God. We have been called to leave familiar places and to search for God where he has called us to go.
One of the beautiful aspects of what Jeremiah tells the people of God is seen in verse 13. He says to the people, “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
There are two important points made here that we must be diligent in recognizing. The first point has to do with the manner in which we seek God. This is seen in the second half of the verse. We must seek God with our whole heart. What that is describing is a complete commitment to the task of searching. It is not enough to pay lip service to this.
If we are not truly and honestly seeking after God then we will never really find them. Not because God is trying to stay hidden. We will not find God because we never really sought him. This is an important precondition to our journey of faith. It is not designed to restrict us. It is quite the opposite. By making it known that only a genuine search for God will lead us to where God is, God has made clear how we can assess whether or not we will ever find God.
The second point, found in the first half of the verse, is the promise built into the act of searching. The promise that God offers to his people is that if we seek him according to the manner he described then he will be found. This is a promise of certainty. This is a promise God has obligated himself to fulfill. Not because he owes us, but because he has stated the conditions and the results he will relate to us with.
The season of Lent is an opportunity for searching once again. It is a reminder to set aside those things that would keep us from deepening our commitment and relationship to God. It is a time where we can challenge and even oppose the forces at work against our faith through dedicated focus. But most importantly it is a persistent reminder every year that God has called us to seek him.
As we celebrate Easter this year may we remember that God is still calling us to seek him. I pray that I might recommit myself to seek him with my whole heart. I pray that you will do the same.