“They go with their flocks and herds to seek the Lord but do not find him; he has withdrawn from them.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been in one place while your mind and heart were someplace else? You may be physically existing wherever you are, but you aren’t really there. It’s hard to get much of significance done like that. The odds are that whatever it is you are looking to accomplish there either isn’t going to happen at all, or at least isn’t going to happen well. This is true physically, but it’s also true spiritually and relationally. Let’s talk about how.
I was watching a Hallmark movie the other night and, believe it or not, it was about a guy and a girl falling in love. I know, I know: I was as shocked as you are. This was actually one of the more compelling ones I’ve seen (and I’ve watched a bunch). This one didn’t use the basic girl-breaks-up-with-wrong-guy-only-to-find-right-guy plot that most of them used. It drew on the variation of girl-is-interested-in-two-guys-at-the-same-time line. And it was actually even more nuanced than that. I won’t tell you more lest I spoil the plot.
That’s enough fun at Hallmark’s expense. I actually really enjoyed this one (you can ask my wife). But what has brought it to mind this morning is that it actually offered a really good illustration of this verse. One of the guys the girl (Trish) was dating was the one her sister, Chloe, was really pushing as Mr. Right. Adam was a tall and handsome and kind and a successful lawyer. He had the full package.
But, on their first date, after planning an unexpectedly sweet evening, he offered to take her out to dinner. She agreed as long as it wasn’t sushi. In the middle of their conversation his phone rang and he interrupted her to answer it. It was from work with something about a case that had come up unexpectedly. He actually asked her for a rain check and promised to take her out for…wait for it…sushi a few days later.
Every time they were together for the rest of the movie, he was with her, but not really. It was never anything big or intentional, but a string of little things that said he didn’t really care about her beyond what she was doing for him.
She owned a cupcake shop and showed up at his office to bring him a sample of a new flavor she’d worked really hard to fix. He offered to take her to lunch, but was interrupted by his intercom, gave her another rain check, and thanked her for the brownie as he left her standing alone in his office.
She was taking part in a cooking competition and was pretty proud of it. Every time he referred to it—including on the day of the competition when he texted her to say a work emergency had come up to prevent him from coming as he had promised—he called it a bake off in spite of her repeatedly telling him not to.
Her oven unexpectedly broke one day and after calling every repairman she could think of, she called him for moral support and any help he could possibly offer. He actually said no politely and then hung up on her while she was still talking to him, saying something else about work suddenly coming up.
Every time he was with her, he wasn’t ever really with her. She was on his list of important things, but never at the top of it. This all, of course, played right into the other guy’s favor.
Can you see what’s happening here? Have you already made the connection with me? This is exactly what we do to God far more often than we should. We go to worship Him while our mind and and heart are somewhere else. We start to give Him attention only to cut Him off because something we’re really interested in comes calling.
Just like any other person, God’s not interested in being with us if we aren’t interested in being with Him. Now, no, that doesn’t mean He isn’t eagerly seeking us out and pursuing us hard to make us His own. But He’s not willing to be a third wheel we let come along with us to do the stuff we’d really rather be doing. He’s not interested in being dated for the sake of convenience. He wants to put a ring on us and make us all His own.
If we try to keep stringing Him along, eventually we’re going to look for Him and not be able to find Him. We’ll go to make our offering, but He will have withdrawn from us. God is simply not interested in our worship for the sake of religion. He is worthy of our worship and He will receive our worship gladly, but only when we’re coming to bring Him the worship He deserves. If we’re just coming to throw Him a bone because we’re supposed to, we’re not going to find Him. He loves us too much to be willing to play second fiddle.
If you want God, if Jesus is someone you really do want to follow, then follow Him with all your heart. Put everything else on the back burner. As Jeremiah said, we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. Start seeking; He is a prize you don’t want to miss.