Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead … For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-6)
These verses paint a wonderful picture of salvation, the grace of God that has sought us when we were in our sin and caused us to be now united with Himself through Jesus Christ. It is our heavenly calling, and the calling is to live there in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. That we were in our sin when God found us is an evidence of the seeking, searching heart of God.
We talk a lot, and rightly so, about our need to search for Him, and the Bible is full from beginning to end of the encouragement to do that. The Old Testament is full of the pleas of His people and of the psalmists for God to answer, and there is a search for Him; it is vital that we engage in that. But never let us forget to consider the seeking heart of God. We are familiar with verses such as Christ spoke when He said: The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost. We know and love the stories of the prodigal son, the lost coin and the lost sheep, and we are very aware of that seeking of God for us initially to become His own through Jesus Christ, and we’re very aware of the joy of being found. But sometimes we will find it very fruitful if we meditate on that searching heart of God, and begin to ponder on the pain in the heart of God.
The prophet says:
I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. (Isaiah 65:1)
The pain in that, the pain in God’s heart in Eden when Adam and Eve had lost contact with Him, and He came looking for them – they weren’t looking for Him, and they were hiding when He called them! And all through the ages since, God’s heart has been broken and is searching for us. It is tremendously comforting to think how He has sought until He found us, and finds souls still in their sin and draws them to Himself. It’s tremendously comforting if you’re burdened for another life to realize that God is looking for them, even if there seems no response in them, and that God’s heart is still turned towards His people and His lost ones.
But what I want particularly to draw your attention to is God’s search for you and me, and His hunger for us who are His own, whom He has originally found. But – we know what it’s like to hear somebody calling our name. They maybe haven’t been able to find us in our house or wherever we are, and when we hear them calling we can have various reactions. Sometimes we are engrossed in what we’re doing and don’t want to be disturbed. But other times with an overwhelming joy we hear our name being called. We hadn’t known the person was in the house, and we’re pleased to be found. And I think of our heavenly Father and His constant search for us. He always wants to be found of us. He doesn’t need to look for us, in the sense that He knows exactly where we are. But He calls us and He seeks us, and sometimes we are more responsive than others. Sometimes we don’t hear because we are busy with our own affairs. Sometimes we are too engrossed with our own distresses even to hear Him calling our name. If only we might stop and think of God, His grief and His desire to be united with you and me always. He created us for Himself and for us to enjoy constant communion with Him, never a shade between.
Sometimes the reason that we might not be very quick to hear or to answer is the age-old reason that there can come a veil between: and sometimes that veil is actually sin. Often a person will say: ‘I can’t find God. I’ve looked, and I can’t find Him.’ I often remember my own father’s story as a teenager looking for salvation. He had gone to one of his leaders and was told to go and find it for himself. But then he spoke to another one, a very godly man, who said to him: ‘Is there any sin in your life?’ He’d never thought of that – but he knew there was plenty of sin in his life. He put that sin right, and wonderfully found salvation in Jesus Christ. Talk in the Christian world these days is very full of the knowledge of the grace and the love of God, and that’s all true. There’s not so much said about sin, and I often feel it’s like the elephant in the room: what about sin? Peace, yes; forgiveness, yes – but that’s when sin is repented of and put away. Sometimes there’s just a scance of it in our lives like a scance of dust, stopping a clarity of vision. We were born in it; God rescued us from it. We read in Ephesians that God seated us with Him in heavenly places. Don’t be careless with sin. Keep short accounts with God. Don’t break His heart by being careless. We can’t ignore it, because it immediately forms a barrier, but let us look for clean hands and pure hearts, live within our houses with integrity, set no unclean thing ever before our eyes – just never. I’m aware of what a snare that is to so many people. There should be zero tolerance, and you will know its huge effect in your lives. You will become much more aware of God Himself, and fall in love with God, and share His passion for others. Knowing the passion and the love of God, we find ourselves in true communion.
The line of a poem says something like this:
Over against His dead, God sat weeping.
When we catch a glimpse of that God, we want never to offend Him again, but to come and be at His side and say: ‘O God, keep me close.’ He sets us in His safe place: ‘Then was I in His eyes as one that found peace.’
What seekest Thou, O Master mine,
In yon far country of life’s waste
Searching each haunt of sin and want
Where souls are spent in wanton haste?
Let’s not leave Him alone in that search, but let us be ones that identify with Him and endeavour never to grieve His faithful heart.
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