Faith Reflections

Quit Searching

Several years ago, I was packed in a church van sitting next to an adorable little boy named Cole who was probably three or four years old. He was in his little booster seat with a portable VHS player and we were movies buddies. I’m sure his mom packed a few movies for the never-ending hours across the abyss known as “Kansas” but Cole wanted to watch only one movie – “Scooby Doo on Zombie Island”. And Cole not only wanted to watch only that movie; there was one particular two-minute clip that we had to rewind and watch over and over again. It was a scene where after seeing some zombies, Scooby Doo’s head gets completely turned around repeatedly until it reached a point where it could twist no longer. And then, boom. His head spun out of control back to it’s original position. Scooby Doo would spin out of control. Cole would laugh out of control. Rewind. Repeat.
woman spinningI think God must feel like He watches that scene on repeat. But instead of Scooby Doo’s head spinning out of control, it’s mine.
I spend an inordinate amount of time searching. Searching without. Searching within. My head twists and twists searching.
What is on the calendar for tomorrow? What will I grab for lunch? What project will I work on next? What adventure do I want to have this weekend? What plans do I need to make with friends or family? What awesome Snapchat can I create? What will I blog about?
What goals do I have? What do I want to do with my life? What kind of person do I want to be? How do I feel about this issue? What do I need to work on? What is God trying to teach me? What did they mean by that? What did I mean by that? How do I make every moment matter? How do I love better? How do I live better?
Twist, twist, twist, twist …..
In all honesty, there are times when I find God in the searching. There are times where I discover things that bring joy to my life or teach me something about myself. Twisting this way or that to see, to pay attention is not bad. But when self-exploration becomes too twisted it can lead to what author Brennan Manning describes as “morbid introspection, endless self-analysis, and the fatal narcissism of spiritual perfectionism”. When I read that, I wrote “OUCH!” in the margin. Because a kick to the gut usually hurts.
God reminded me tonight that often my very best moments with Him are not a result of my searching but rather my awareness. Let me explain how I see these differently for me.
Searching implies control and influence on my part. I’m trying to force that which can’t and often shouldn’t be forced.
Awareness implies openness and receptivity to God. I’m trying to keep my eyes on God. That’s it. Some days I think all God wants is for us to just be together. To gaze at one another. To just be each other’s beloved.
Some days God has divine appointments. But when I get consumed with searching, things get twisted and I lose sight of God and I miss a lot of those appointments because my head was turned another direction or two or three.
Brennan Manning says that “from the time of [the Apostle Paul’s] conversion his entire attention was riveted on the risen Christ”. Even unbelievers said of Paul that he was full of Christ because Paul lived in total awareness of Christ and it was evident to all that his head was not twisted but completely locked in a passionate gaze with his Beloved. Manning goes on to say that “contemplative prayer is above all else looking at the person of Jesus. The prayer of simple awareness means we don’t have to get anywhere because we are already there. We are simply coming into consciousness that we possess what we seek. Contemplation, defined as looking at Jesus while loving Him, leads not only to intimacy but to the transformation of the person contemplating….. Contemplative awareness of the risen Jesus shapes our resemblance to Him and turns us into the persons God intended us to be.” (Abba’s Child, 110-111)
I want to live more aware. I want to live riveted on the risen Christ. I want to live knowing I’m already there, with Him, and that is more than enough. And like some old married couple, I’m going to start looking like Him more and more each day that I do life with Him.
A final story as the candle is nearly out here on my deck ….
Tonight was a perfect night. An “12” on a scale of 1 – 10. I went for a walk to one of my favorite places. I was listening to some amazing music and taking in the beauty of the world around me. No agenda. No searching. I was just completely aware of my Creator and how He truly had outdone Himself tonight. And then there was a divine appointment. A “chance” meeting with someone I’ve not seen in awhile but who I love and admire. And we both needed the next hour of being present with each other, walking and talking and being aware that the risen Christ was with us.
It was better than anything I could have searched for tonight.
May you stop searching today and simply look at Jesus. Just be aware of His crazy love for you and His nearness. Don’t twist. Just gaze and be aware. 

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