I love theology. This complex book we call the Bible never ceases to captivate my imagination. I love to dissect difficult passages, discuss biblical doctrines, and debate controversial issues. But there is one idea that I cling to more than any other. It’s not one of those secondary theological issues I like to hash out with my friends, such as nonviolence or free will. It’s way too sacred for that. Also, nobody will argue with me about this. There is a holy hush that enters the room whenever someone starts talking about it.
It’s the practice of searching for God.
I’ve had the rare privilege of meeting a few people who get up in the wee hours of the morning to pray and study the Bible for hours. These might not be the most theologically or philosophically sophisticated of my friends, but I respect them more than the deepest thinker I can name. I think it’s because these folks actually know God. They are like Jacob who wrestled all night until the angel of the Lord blessed him. Or like David who would lay awake in bed thinking about God. Or like Jesus who would get up while it was still dark to go to a solitary place to pray. There is something otherworldly about these characters, something mysteriously attractive. It makes me want what they have.
I remember getting up very early one morning with a determination to find God.
I started reading in the book of Jeremiah (don’t ask me why). It was one of the most dreadfully boring, dry, and lifeless experiences I’ve ever endured. I went back to bed feeling utterly defeated. But I didn’t give up. I wanted to know God more than anything else in the world and I was going to search for him until I found him! Eventually, I started experiencing moments of ecstasy and a gradual, even mystical union with Jesus as I persisted in the spiritual disciplines day after day after day.
Sorry to break it to you, but there is no shortcut to finding God. The path forged by revivalists, missionaries, and other radicals throughout church history has always included two essential practices: First, Prayer “…Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12b). Second, Scripture “…from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15b).
Almost every Christian I know wants to spend more time alone with God. Here’s my suggestion: Do it. Do more of it! It might be really hard, but so is lifting weights. So is eating healthy. So is getting out of bed and going to work, for goodness sake!
Anything that yields actual benefits is going to take self discipline. The reward for searching for God is the opportunity to connect with a very real Being who spoke the universe into existence, created us in his likeness, and sacrificed everything so that we can enter into the most intense experience of holy ecstasy ever imagined by the wildest dreamer.
Want to take on the most important challenge of your life? I dare you to begin intensely searching for God.