Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
I was heading off the other morning for a “quiet time.” Never did like that term much. I checked to make sure everything was in order. Bible. Check. Journal. Check. Pen. Phone. iPod. Check. Check. Check. You get the idea. I loaded the car (sounds a bit like a camping excursion) and drove off. I had everything I needed. Halfway to my destination my mind panicked. Did I remember my chapstick? As best one can do while driving, I began to search with one arm on the wheel and one deep in the bottom of my Jack Bauer-like man-bag. Relief flooded over me as my fingers encircled the small piece of comfort.
It wasn’t much further into my journey that I laughed out loud. I had everything in order, and I was going to meet God. Based on my knowledge of Scripture, the number of men and women with everything in order when God met them totals zero. Simon and Andrew were struggling fishermen when Jesus called to them. Paul was killing people. Mary and Joseph were planning a wedding. Moses was hiding and keeping his father-in-law’s flock. Adam and Eve, they too were hiding when God came looking for them. None of these were outwardly looking for God.
No question it’s a great thing to pursue God. Ask, seek, and knock. But what I’m referring to is not simply searching for God, but doing so with the perception that I have all my ducks in a row. Like I “have it together.” We need God because of our brokenness, not despite it. To those who think they have it all together, Jesus quickly exposes their inadequacy and gets down to business on their heart. The ones who have the easiest time approaching God are the ones who know their own brokenness. In fact, that is why they come.
I didn’t want to be without my chapstick because that would risk my own discomfort. But it’s discomfort that brings us to God. To be uncomfortable is to be reminded that we were made for a place without pain, hunger, and tears. A home we can only hope for. It’s when Israel is troubled that they call out to God in the Old Testament; they don’t when things are great. As I look back on it now, perhaps in some way my chapstick actually kept me from wanting God. It provided physical relief from discomfort, which only distracts and delays my hope.