By Susan K. Smith,
When you search for me, you will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
From a very early age, I was moved by the words found in the 13th verse of the book of Jeremiah. For some reason the words stuck to my very spirit, though I didn’t know why. And honestly, I am only just now beginning to understand their depth and power.
Though many of us say we “know” the Lord, it is likely more accurate that we know about the Lord, learned from hearing good sermons or watching faithful grandparents whose walk with God may have mystified us from time to time because it was so steady and so sure. Not even all who bring the Word of God on Sunday mornings “know” God, have not let God in. Before God, we put our own desires and wants; we use God for our own gain, and really do not invest in doing what we must in order to have a genuine relationship.
We do not let God in.
Howard Thurman, in his book The Inward Journey, reveals what happens when we let God in. We invite God to see us in our spiritual nakedness. Thurman reminds us that the psalm says, “Thou art acquainted with all my ways.,” ways which include:
The little malices; the big hostilities, the subtle envies, the robust greeds, the whimpering contrition, the great confession, the single resolve, the fearful commitment, the tryst with death that broods over the zest for life like intermittent shadows, from sunrise to sunrise.
It is Truth that God is in fact acquainted with all our ways, but until we let God in, we cannot benefit from God’s knowledge of the same and how God can repair us in our broken places because God does, in fact, know.
Letting God in requires us to search for God, intentionally, not just in bad times, but during the very best times of our lives as well. The promise is that if we search in that way, God will let us find him/her. And when we find God, weary from a life where we have marginalized and peripheralized God, we are led into God’s divine classroom, where God tells us about ourselves.
In those classrooms, God gives us divine treatment, in fits and starts, because we are unable to take too much at one time. God’s treatment of us is tender yet intentional and robust; God takes divine fingers and unties all of the ropes within us we have tied in order to survive. It is God’s intent that we become free from the shackles of self-deceit. God has all of the questions we have ever asked – about ourselves, about our relationships, about the direction of our lives and about our experiences, and when we let God in, having looked for God with all our heart, God knows that it is OK to begin the process of divine examination, diagnosis and treatment. God makes sure that our spirits are correctly prepped for the procedure which we will undergo. At this moment, there is no time for any toxicity which has caused us to have infected spirits for too long, to get in the way. God rejoices that we sought God, that we decided to trust God enough to truly seek Him/Her, and treats us with utter care and concern.
One of the benefits of letting God in and submitting to God in ways we may never have before is that we receive revelations. In some recent meditations I had with God, God went over with me some of the pages and experiences of my life, and then, from nowhere, it seems, I heard God say, “You have never cherished yourself.”
There is a lot to that revelation, but suffice it to say that I knew what God was saying as soon as I heard those words. Here I am, “old as Jesus,” as I like to say, and even now, God cares enough to give me that piece of hard truth. Those are the kinds of gems we are given when we let God in. What has that truth meant in my life? Once the revelation is given, the work can begin.
When we let God in, we are promised God’s presence, but also God’s surprises. We also permit a new relationship between ourselves and God, as God allows us to find Him/Her. God sees us seeking; God sees us struggling and fighting and pining for what, we don’t know…and God decides, as it becomes apparent that we are not pretending to want to find God in a new way, that God will let us find Him/Her.
God reads us to ourselves; God takes the cover off of all that we have hidden so well and so effectively for years, and when we see it, when our eyes have adjusted to the brightness of that moment, we begin to experience spiritual freedom and strength in ways we never imagined possible.
Honestly, I never paid much attention to verse 14, the words that say, “I will let you find me,” but it makes sense. We honor God by our sincere searching for Him/Her, and when God knows we are really serious, God permits us the experience of what it is like to really let God in.
There is no turning back once we seek God with all our heart. The process accelerates the closer we get to an honest relationship. It is a blessing from God to desire God with that kind of intensity. All else that we want will come into proper alignment, and we will “know we’ve been changed.”
Amen and amen.
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith –Writer, author, musician, pastor, preacher and social justice advocate. She is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and author of “Crazy Faith: Ordinary People; Extraordinary Lives,” which won the 2009 National Best Books Award. Follow Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith on Twitter:www.twitter.com/cassad