Are you in pursuit of God, desiring to know Him in ever-increasing ways? The little I know doesn’t satisfy my desire for more. The more I see and know, the more I realize I don’t really see or know much!
Have you ever tried a “What is it?” quiz? That’s where you look at a close-up image of something and guess what it is. Sometimes pursuing God resembles the opposite. Through an encounter with a distant shadow, we try to figure out what He is fully like.
A.W. Tozer said, “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to that pursuit.”
God wants to be found; He desires to be discovered by us. That knowledge offers great comfort and hope.
“You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.”
The Old Testament gives us bold expressions of God’s identity through His many names: God, LORD, Healer, Creator, Shepherd, Redeemer, and many more. The list is long, the images unique to another facet of who our God is.
The vast God-shaped palette fills with colorful texture as our knowledge of Him fills and finds depth. When we look, seeking with our whole heart, we find His image revealed, yet concealed.
In the pages of the New Testament, we quickly see that most people, Jewish and otherwise, believed they had Him figured out. The portrait they painted was Scripture perfect. Or so they thought! They believed in the diligent pursuit of God.
John quotes Jesus as saying,
“You study the Scriptures diligently
because you think that in them
you have eternal life.
These are the very Scriptures
that testify about me.”
John’s generation, as well as preceding and following generations, studied God’s Word with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude, rather than a pursuit-of-God intention. As a result, they missed God, even when He stood among them.
Honestly, that’s me too! John himself probably fit into the same category. As a Jewish boy, he would have studied the Torah, knew the names of God, and memorized key passages about Him.
If someone asked if he knew God, John undoubtedly would have responded in the affirmative. His incomplete perception of God blew apart when Jesus came along.
Jesus, the God-Man, didn’t look like, sound like or act like the God John thought he knew. Yet Paul would write,
“The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.”
Another disciple, Philip, was in pursuit of God. He felt he needed more. Being with Jesus, hearing his authoritative teaching and witnessing miracles left him lacking.
“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father
and that will be enough for us.”
In no uncertain terms, Jesus responds,
“. . . Don’t you know me, Philip,
even after I have been among
you such a long time?
Anyone who has seen me
has seen the Father. . .”
This, too, I find strangely reassuring. Even the disciples who lived with Jesus intensely pursued more of God!
John’s entire perception of God changed in the face of Jesus. He discovered Him to be more loving, merciful and gracious than John ever imagined. Was it this new understanding that transformed a “Son of Thunder” into “the Beloved?” Talk about a radical life transformation!
As our view of God changes, so will we.
God made Himself visible, reachable, touchable, understood and seen in Jesus. So much more remains to be seen, known and discovered.
Jesus led Peter, James and John high up a mountain one day. The rest of his close followers stayed below.
“There be was transfigured before them.
His face shone like the sun,
and his clothes became as white as the light.”
Just when they thought they had God figured out He blows their tidy little box apart. Jesus shows Himself in a way they have never seen Him before. They flounder for words, stumble over preconceived notions, stunned by the majesty of God.
In Peter’s last letter to the church, he wrote about the experience.
“. . . we were eyewitnesses of his majesty . . . when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well please.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”
2 Peter 1:16-18
The Pursuit of God
If any one of us would have witnessed such things, would that satisfy? Would that one blinding glimpse of His majestic beauty, the thunderous sound of His voice, the heart-pounding Presence of the divine, be enough?
I hope not!
Here was King David’s heart’s cry,
“You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.”
I know this desire echoed constantly within John. How can I be so certain? In the last words we receive from him, he remains constant in his pursuit of God. John discovers Him to be more than he ever thought possible.
More to See
Banished to the Island of Patmos for his bold declarations of faith, John waits with the only One who matters.
“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet . . . I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw . . . someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest . . . ”
There is always more of God to see. To turn around? Sometimes to know Him more requires a turning on our part — turning away from something and turning toward Someone. Only then will we see Who we are looking for.
When He speaks, when His voice nudges me, do I turn around to look? Or am I too busy? Or too fixed in the knowledge of Him I already possess?
As a Christian, two dangerous attitudes hinder me from knowing God.
The first is believing I know enough. Then, I allow the shadowy figure of past understanding to create a mirage, a distorted outline, of who God is. In so doing, I twist and press the grandness of Scripture into my Pharisaical belief system, denying the majesty and greatness of Him to form before my eyes. In it, I deny the revelation of His unfolding fullness.
Second, I can read the Word of God intent on discovering what He will do for me. Rather than an earnest desire to know Him more, I search for His promises with me-centered fixation. He walks by, whispering my name, nudging me to intimacy of relationship. I fail to notice until perhaps it is too late!
Like David, Peter, John and generations of others, may we never cease our pursuit of God. Throughout the stages of life, may we be held in awe of His Presence, in wonder of His majesty, and in reverence of His holy divinity. May our pursuit of God captivate us, viewing Him intently close and from afar.