One of the most amazing tools for using the internet is a search engine. I don’t even know how many times a day I use it. There are all kinds of search engines for searching all types of material from movies and games to specialty search engines.
If you phrase what you’re looking for just right, you’ll get better results quicker. Search engines have made the world of the internet useful for anyone. You don’t have to know the web address or anything other than the content you are looking for.
If you’re like me you will keep fine-tuning that phrase until you find exactly what you’re looking for. I don’t even mind taking the time to find exactly what I want. It’s not too bad when you consider the alternative before search engines.
That intensity of searching until I find what I want is similar to being desperate for God, to seeking him until we find him. It’s true that it gets easier when you are Christian and the longer you seek God and are desperate for him. But there is no search engine to get what you want fast. You must seek God, showing your desperation and desire for him alone.
Realizing Our Need
It seems most people are not interested in spending extra time or effort for anything these days. If there’s a shortcut or a quick fix, we are more interested in finding out how to do that then doing the hard work involved in getting results that last.
It’s no different in our walk with God. When we seek God in his presence, we often wonder why he doesn’t just show up. But that’s not how it works. God is not a thing to be searched for like in a search engine. He is a Person.
More than anything, we must recognize our need for God to be in our lives. We come to him in humility, a quiet confidence that we will meet with God. We are God’s children and he loves to spend time with us.
Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes that we must be poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). We approach God knowing we need him more than anything else in this world. We prioritize him, putting him first as we seek him. Poor in spirit means we are spiritually bankrupt. We know there is nothing in us or in this world that will satisfy us.
That’s why we seek the Lord. We have been created with a spiritual nature that connects with God and we have a lack in ourselves without him. We recognize him as Creator, Sovereign King, and Friend. We are empty in ourselves. We are missing something in our spirits. That is, until we connect with Jesus.
We come to God empty, ready to be filled with his Spirit. Being filled with his Spirit is more important to us than anything else. It is more precious than our schedules, hobbies, and even our next breath.
There is no quick fix or shortcut to getting into God’s presence. But there are some things that help us seek him more and find him. When we have a true desperation for God, we will sacrifice the time, energy, and focus to wait on the Lord.
In Luke 15, Jesus gives three examples of the lost sheep, coin, and son to show how intensely a person should be willing to seek God. The shepherd left the 99 sheep for the one. The woman searched for her lost coin until she found it. And the father waited for the lost son to return.
In each of these parables, the key is at the end when the lost object was found. There was great rejoicing. When we do the hard work of seeking the Lord and abandoning every other priority and sin in our lives, we are rewarded with his presence. We rejoice to dwell with him in that moment.
Moses trudged up and down Mount Sinai at 80 years old all because he wanted to be with God in his presence. Everyone knew Moses had been with Yahweh because his face shone with the light of God’s glory. It scared the Israelites and he covered his face with a veil.
Jeremiah prophesies that the Lord will meet with his people once again and bless them if only they seek his face (Jeremiah 29: 13-14). But they must seek his presence. His presence comes first and the blessings come after.
When we seek the Lord intensely, willing only to surrender when we enter his presence after the waiting, we will receive the precious gift of his presence with us. Paul reflects on the Ministry of Moses when his face glowed with the presence of God (2 Corinthians 4:7-14).
He says that we are like jars of clay that retain the glory of God through the light of the gospel. As we suffer trials for Jesus, the cracks in our jars show forth the light of the gospel to others. Our suffering opens the door to show others Jesus’ glory in us.
When we live in the presence of God, he empowers us not only to share our faith but to see incredible miracles, healings, and deliverance. He shows himself strong in our weakness. But it’s not about the gifts or the other ways God shows his glory in us. It’s about chasing after him with everything in us. We seek Jesus not what he can do through us.
Hide and Seek
Why is it so hard to seek the presence of God? We spend the time and energy because we know the worth of being with Jesus through his Holy Spirit. But he doesn’t just show up every time. Throughout the Old Testament Psalms and Prophets, the Bible talks about how God hides his face from his people.
Isaiah mentions that God hides himself (Isaiah 45:15). Job describes his relationship as he searches for answers to his plight. He waits on the Lord but doesn’t hear an answer. He wishes that God would not hide his face in his affliction (Job 13:20-24). David wrote many times in the Psalms about God seeming to be far away in his trials (Psalm 13:1; 27:9; 44:24; 88:14, 17; 102:2; 143:7).
Why does he sometimes hide from those who seek him? If there is sin in our lives, we should not expect God to meet with us. Only after confession and repentance will he be open to commune with us again. We must humbly seek him first for repentance and his forgiveness.
Another reason God hides his face from us for a time may be that he wants us to seek him more intensely. We can’t just come to him and expect him to show up every time without any effort or desire from us. He is not at our beck and call. We are his servants.
When we seek him more intensely with our whole heart desiring him alone, setting aside the other things in our lives that are important to us, he will come to us. Perhaps he just wants to hear and see us desire him not only to solve a problem or answer a prayer but to genuinely be in his presence and enjoy him. God knows our hearts and he knows when we genuinely seek him for who he is.
A final reason I see in Scripture for God hiding his face from his people is that they neglect him. They turn to their own resources or think they can do things without him. There’s no reason for God to meet us when we are unwilling to meet him. We must test our motives and intentions. Let’s lay ourselves bare before him.
Our Daily Bread
When Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness, he quoted from Scripture that a person does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from God’s mouth (Matthew 4:4). Until we desire God more than anything else, even the food we need to survive, we will not see him as the saints of the Old and New Testaments.
We must realize we need Jesus more than anything else. When we come to this brokenness in ourselves, being poor in spirit, we will see God. When I pray for God’s presence to be with me and dwell in me, I think of when he says, “Give me this day my daily bread” in the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:11).
We can think of our daily bread in two ways. First, the most natural way is to understand our daily bread as the needs we have, Jesus’ provision for us. We only live because he is our great Provider. But I also think of another provision God gives me.
Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35). Earlier he talks about seeking him instead of the works and signs he does (John 6:26-27). So we seek him because he is the bread of life, our food from God. We meditate upon his word, his teachings and his commands. This is one of the methods we can use to enter his presence.
Another way we can reach out for God and search for him is through fasting. This is not practiced by most Christians today, but it is the greatest way to empty ourselves and wait on the Lord. This is how we show God that we understand the serious nature of seeking after him. It shows our desire for him alone.
Seeking the Lord requires a sacrifice from us. And fasting is the way to show the that we are putting him first in our lives. It will cost us something to seek the Lord and his glory.
Seeking the Lord is not always easy. His presence doesn’t just show up when we call on him. He hears us and answers our prayers, but to dwell in his presence we must be more intentional and put forth more of an effort.
He desires us and we desire him. But when he doesn’t immediately fill us with his presence, we must be willing to put aside everything else and focus on him. Leave a comment and share how you seek the presence of the Lord.