The Greatest Adventure
The more you fulfill yourself, the less you will seek God. Get to work—narrow your focus and interests on this one thing. Have you ever sought God with your whole heart, or have you simply given Him a feeble cry after some emotionally painful experience?
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Seek: to “go in search or quest of… to try to find or discover by searching or questioning.”
Random House Unabridged Dictionary
I’ve been on many quests in my life.
From my teens to early 30’s, I sought the ultimate sexual fantasy. I went all out with plenty of porn, masturbation, promiscuity, prostitutes and more, but all I ended up with was misery, shame, and a marriage that I almost destroyed.
I went after success as the world defines it—having money and stuff—and found it, for a little while. In 1998 I sold a machine tool company I owned for more than a million dollars. The thing about having money is it’s never enough, and there’s no guarantee for tomorrow. My next business venture failed miserably, quickly draining our bank account and putting us in debt.
I’ve sought freedom from sexual and other types of sins by a number of different means, including support groups, counseling and books, but none of these things in of themselves could fill the void in my heart. (Having said this, I still needed the groups, counseling and books.)
I searched for success and approval as I thought some in the church defined it, which was to “be a good Christian” by going to church, knowing lots of Bible, getting involved in ministry, and doing and saying all the right Christian things.
But I hated the hollow feeling that came from playing the Christian Game and pretending I had the Real Thing in my heart. After years of faking it, the Sunday Charade made me sick. “Why are so many of us hiding our pain, sin and emptiness behind a phony plastic smile and trying to pretend we’re something we’re not?” I wondered. “Isn’t the church supposed to be a safe place where people who don’t have it all together can be vulnerable and get help?”
I’ve heard many armchair critics trash the church about its lack of transparency, but those who’ve put their money where their mouth is and spoken with gut-level honesty about their weaknesses and struggles are rare—especially when it comes to sexual sin. Sunday mornings I would sometimes find myself thinking “there has to be more than this.”
“It” is found in the greatest adventure this side of Heaven.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
“…with all of your heart.” When those words first stood out to me years ago, I was shredded with conviction. I’d never gone on an all-out search for God; women, money and sex—yes, but the thought had never entered my mind to “seek Him with all my heart.”
Up to that point my walk with God had been one glorious failure to strive to meet His impossible standards through Bible knowledge, ministry involvement, and trying to be a “good Christian.” I had been on the insane merry-go-round of sexual sin and shame for so long that I despaired of whether I would ever possess the fruits of the spirit (love, joy and peace) I read about in Scripture.
Yet, there is no list of sins I might commit that would keep me from God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:13. If I sought Him with all my heart, He guaranteed I’d find Him.
In Hosea 10:9-10, God is reprimanding the nation of Israel for their sinful state:
From the days of Gibeah you have sinned, O Israel; There they stand! Will not the battle against the sons of iniquity overtake them in Gibeah? When it is My desire, I will chastise them; And the peoples will be gathered against them When they are bound for their double guilt.
And then in verse twelve, He offers them a way out:
Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
Notice that it would be after the children sought the Lord when He would rain righteousness on them. The text doesn’t say “Thou shalt stop all sinning before you dare seek me.” The Lord’s simple invitation is for all to come to Him, as they are (remember, his audience in Hosea is the corrupt nation of Israel). It is in the process of seeking Him where He breaks up the fallow ground of hardened hearts and “rains righteousness on them”.
So what does seeking God look like?
First, as Oswald Chambers said, we must narrow our focus to God alone, which will eliminate several distractions:
1. The self and what it wants.
Seeking the Lord is different from seeking freedom from sexual sin. Some want to stop lusting because they don’t want to feel shame or guilt; they want what God can do for them, not God Himself. If we’re distracted by self-obsession and/or our grocery list of wants and needs, legitimate or not, we’ll miss Him. Our focus should be firmly set on the Lord alone so we’re eager and ready to hear and receive what He wants to say and do. For those of us who’ve spent a life time in “it’s all about me mode,” this adjustment may take some time.
2. Our perception of what we think is right and how our circumstances should play out.
We don’t see ourselves, others or circumstances like the Lord does. If there’s a situation in which we’re striving to have our way but it’s not working out, often the Lord has something different in mind. Let all of your preconceived notions go… as well as the opinions of others.
3. Our fleshly desire for the ultimate spiritual experience.
Our rock star/pornified/you can have the ultimate fantasy/do it if it feels good culture has taught us to make our feelings and experiences a god. Turn away from this so you focus all your energy in your search for the Living God. We’re not after an emotional rush or a mountain-top experience (i.e. to use God like a drug to feel good), but a Person; the awesome, peerless, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
4. What we know.
“I know God’s word, got the right models and programs in place, and my ministry machine is rolling” some think. “What more is there?”
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
In late August of 2006, I felt impressed by the Lord to do an extended fast for 40 days. I was excited, hoping He was going to give me a grand vision for the ministry. I began fasting on September 1, but the outcome was nothing like I expected.
I’d made a list of my dreams and goals for the ministry and brought them to Him, but every time I did this a sense of restraint immediately surfaced; it was if He didn’t want anything do with it.
He didn’t. The first 13 days were about conviction and cleansing. He probed deep into my heart in hard, dark places and exposed sin I had been blind to; sin that included (among others) weak faith, a critical heart, and, to my horror, self-righteousness in my marriage. In sorrow, I went to my wife and asked her forgiveness for my actions.
Early the thirteenth day I had a sense that the Lord was finished with the cleansing process. He’d led me to passages about grace and forgiveness that morning, and I looked forward to what I hoped would be the “vision” part of the fast. But that night my blood sugar level crashed and I ended up in the emergency room on an IV. Although the fast was over and I was disappointed at the time, God’s purposes were accomplished; they had nothing to do with what I’d expected.
As we let go of our self–obsession, flawed perceptions, and expectations for having life go our way, we come to the launch pad of surrender. It is here where the quest for God gets under way.
We go after the Lord hard, resolving not to stop seeking until we find Him. “I want you God!” we cry, “I’ve had enough of me and my distorted way of living life. Fill me with all of Your Holy Spirit, I want You more than anything! You promised to reveal Yourself to Me if I sought You with all my heart, so here I am—I’m after you now!”
No matter how long it takes, we keep after Him. As we realize we’re on the most exciting adventure of our life a sense of expectant wonder settles in. When we soak in God’s word He starts revealing bits and pieces of Himself: a God of peace and comfort, who says He can fill the hardest heart with joy, and came that we might have abundant life. As we read of His “great love with which He loves us,” the light finally starts breaking through the dark clouds over our heart that all of these wonderful blessings are for us.
Our search is made up of consistent, concentrated, prayer, praise, time in God’s word, listening, journaling… and silence.
My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.
My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.
For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing…
I believe that the average Christian knows nothing of the blessing of silence; what to do with it, or how to handle it. I’ve heard many excuses of why Christian men and women avoid being alone with God in silence “My mind starts wandering… I’m too busy… I’m not as “spiritual” as others… I don’t have the patience for it… isn’t that a waste of time when there’s so much to do?”
But really, I think it’s because they’re afraid of it. In silence we feel all of who we are; there’s nothing to distract us from our sin and the pain that lies deep within. The other side of the coin is that some haven’t surrendered the throne of their life to Jesus; deep down they know God wants more than Sundays and Wednesday nights; He wants it all.
Be still, and know that I am God.
In his books Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning writes that “silence leads us to stillness.” I have a feeling that our “waiting on God in silence” is really about Him waiting for us to come to the place of stillness. It is after an extended time of seeking the Lord in silence when we come to stillness, and it is in stillness when we are finally in that fully surrendered state where we can freely commune with the Holy Spirit at a deeper level—and receive the rain of righteousness.
And oh, does He pour it on! Even in those times of conviction, I love every moment in His powerful, holy, loving, and awesome Presence. It is here, in this sacred place, where the sexually broken or their spouse can find peace, love, life, and direction for God’s purposes. And it is here where they fall in love with Him.
It is in stillness when they hear “Beloved of the Lord… I love you… you are precious to Me… ” As Jesus quietly heals their wounds, they find peace. They receive the truth that their scars haven’t turned Jesus off; He’s been waiting for them to seek Him all along.
Let me ask, have you ever sought God with all your heart? Have you made a fast paced way of life your defense against having to slow down and feel and see who you really are?
Are you avoiding Him?
If you’re in ministry, is the work fueled by the Holy Spirit, of whom we are filled during time alone with Him, or are you running on your own fumes? Are you using ministry as a god for approval and/or monument to self, or is God working through you? Who’s getting the glory?
Are you hurting, floundering in the shame of your own sin and despair, hoping against hope that God might somehow really care for you?
And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.”
God is calling many of you to get away with Him, alone, for a full day; some are being called for a longer stay. He wants you, undistracted by the concerns of family, friends, work or ministry.
“But, what about work, my family, my ministry,” you say.
Remember these words from Jeremiah 29:13: “with all your heart.” Spare no effort; let nothing hinder you from your quest. Tell your spouse you need a night alone away in a cabin in a forest setting (with no TV) to seek the Lord, ask your boss for a day off, or tell your ministry team that you’re feeling empty and dry and need some face time with God.
If you’re willing to embark on the greatest adventure of all time, you’ll find the Living God.
He’s promised you will, if you’ll seek Him with all of your heart.
Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
©2006-2012 by Mike Genung. All Rights Reserved. This article may be reprinted for personal, church, or ministry use; a link to www.roadtograce.net is appreciated. No reprints for commercial use without written permission.