A happy Monday to you! “Monday Musing” is a new-ish feature I am trying – I actually had a post with that title previously, but it was sort of unintentional. I hope to dig into some things Christians say as well as Bible verses that are kind of common or well-known (maybe even misquoted) and give some context that will help to bring more understanding.
This week, I’m bringing you a statement I’ve said many times in Bible study at church. It’s a truth that has been reinforced for me several different times in several different ways over the last 6 years or so: You find what you look for.
(photo credit Sarah Crutchfield on Unsplash)
As a jumping off point of discussion, let’s look at this statement through the lens of the ways different people view the same situation. “You find what you look for” sums up the contrast between two very different groups of people. There are people that will hear this statement as a negative – because that’s what they look for. Whether it’s a problem at work, or a disagreement among people, or character flaws in their spouses, this first group of people will always find what they’re looking for. And it will be disappointing or even terrifying.
The second group will hear this statement as a positive – because that’s what they look for. Every moment is an opportunity for something good. (Almost) every person they meet has redeeming qualities. The reasons for gratitude outweigh the negatives in life. And knowing that gives them one more reason to be grateful.
It seems that these two groups have very little in common, and yet frequently you will see married couples with one person from each group. They can complement each other in many ways – the positive people helping to pull their partners out of problem-finding mode (and hopefully moving into problem-solving mode), while the negative people keep their positive partners from giving away all their trust and gratitude to someone who might hurt them.
Having a negative view on “you find what you look for” can save you from some trouble as you go through daily life. But when you are dealing with personal growth, especially as a Christian, the negative view rarely moves you forward. Constantly identifying problems without looking for a solution is no way to grow! Calm down, positive types (like me) – when you never look at what might be wrong in your life, you never see those amazing opportunities for growth either.
So here is this truth that seems to be fairly universal: You find what you look for. But did you know this is in the Bible? Several times! Let’s look at some of the verses and see what insight they give us:
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29)
Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it for an inheritance to your children after you forever. (I Chronicles 28:8)
You have said, “Seek My face.” My heart says to You, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)
You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. (Amos 5:14)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
(all scripture references are English Standard Version; deductive search conducted on the word “seek” on biblegateway.com) (and for the record – I am more a fan of the inductive method of study)
Throughout the Bible, we’re told that if we look for God we can find Him. But the negative and positive viewpoints can still color the way we look for God. If you look for evidence of His wrath and proof that you/we/I will never measure up, you will definitely find it in the Bible. But you’ll miss out on the hope, and the faith-building delivered-upon-promises. On the reverse, if you look only for His love, grace and mercy, you will definitely find that as well. But you’ll miss the warnings that go with the commandments He gives; you’ll miss the terrible holiness that is the essence of His nature.
Instead of bringing our views of God to scripture and trying to make Him fit into our box, what if we instead let go of our expectations as we opened the pages? What if we simply asked Him to show us who He is and what He expects? It’s not easy to do, I know. But if we’re going to have a real relationship with God, we have to try to get to know Him for who He is. In the same way that a human relationship will never work if you refuse to acknowledge or recognize aspects of your partner’s character, we cannot build a true relationship with God based solely on our preconceived ideas about who He is. We have to let Him be Himself and show us – as we look for Him, we will find Him.
I’m curious – what statements or verses have you heard that you don’t quite understand? Is there anything you would like more context on? Leave a comment – I’m building quite a list, and I’d love to have your input!