Remember playing hide ’n’ seek as a kid? One friend counts to 30 while all the rest hide in the best spot they can find. As the seeker begins searching with a shout of, “Ready or not, here I come!” everyone nestles into their hiding spots, gets as still and quiet as they possible can, and hopes they are the last one found… or, better yet, not found at all. The seeker looks and looks and looks, exclaiming, “Found you!” each time they find someone hiding, until, at last, the final hider has been found. Or maybe the seeker was never able to find that final one. After looking high and low, they are nowhere to be found. The seeker must yell, “Olly olly oxen free!” signaling to the expert hider that they can leave their hiding place, for the seeker has given up the search.
While we may not play hide ’n’ seek any more, now that we are grown ups, there is still a seeking we are called to do: “Continually seek [the Lord].” (1 Chronicles 16:11)
Seek means “to search; to look for; to try and discover”. Seeking the Lord is to be continual. No yelling, “Olly olly oxen free!”
But sometimes, I think we want to yell, because we’re feeling a little tired of the searching, and just want to be done with it.
In Jeremiah 29, we again find the call to seek the Lord, and right beside this call, there is promise for those who seek, which proves the seeking to be worth the effort:
This passage foretells the Israelite’s captivity and exile in Babylon. They would be in this exile for 70 years. The reason God spoke through His prophet Jeremiah of this captivity was because of Israelite’s ceasing to seek God. They had chosen to seek other gods and follow the ways of the sinful nations around them.
When we stop seeking God, whether something else has grabbed our attention, or we’ve just become passive in our relationship with Him, it won’t lead us closer to Him. Rather, we’ll be led into ways that are not in line with who God is. And ways that are not of God end in captivity. Captive to the need to succeed, captive to the approval of others, captive to fear and worry, captive to greed and lust, captive to material comforts, captive to the reflection in the mirror.
But, God promises restoration. The captivity of the Israelites would not be their end. Those who had forsaken seeking God would be sought after by God Himself. He would bring them back into relationship with Him and would return them to their promised home.
This is what God has for each of us. He seeks us, even when we aren’t seeking Him, in order to bring us back to Himself and give us a home in His embrace.
God calls us to seek Him, because in seeking Him, we come to know Him more, and follow His ways. And His way is the best. His plans for us are good, and full of hope for the future.
We are promised that when we look for God wholeheartedly, He will be found by us. God is not a smoke-and-mirrors trickster. He is a God of revelation and relationship. Even in those times when He seems distant and silent, we can have confident assurance that He is working, speaking, and revealing Himself.
Sometimes we miss seeing the working, hearing the speaking, and beholding the revealing because we aren’t seeking wholeheartedly. It’s a passive looking, not an active searching. We go about our days waiting to hear from God, but not intentionally listening to His voice or seeking His will.
Relationships don’t really work when done half-heartedly. Love doesn’t really work when given half-heartedly.
God calls us to wholehearted relationship with Him. He loves us fully, and calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And we can know that when He is the King of our hearts, the Lover of our souls, the Focus of our minds, the Source of our strength, He will satisfy and provide and fulfill. As we seek Him, He will lead us out of captivity and straight to His heart, which is full of love for us.