Chapter 4. Getting in Position - Seek God
We come to the third of four responsibilities of a follower learning to play the position for which he or she is designed...seeking the face of God.
Look again at God's specific statement to the king, "Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place." (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).
Focus upon the phrase, "seek my face." Note two things...first, the focused intentionality of seeking that God directs, and second, the personalized objective of the search.
The context of this instruction to a young king suggests that God is directing an urgent search to find and regain that which had gone missing from the daily experience of the king's people...the vibrant, submitted, responsive, obedient, active awareness of being in the direct and constant presence of God's loving authority, power, protection, provision and grace. Maybe you can relate.
Take a few minutes to absorb what the Bible has to say about seeking God. What do you find to be the consistent theme? Open your notes page. Write your answer to the question starting with the words, "My responsibility is to..."
Clearly, God directs and expects an intentional act. As a professional in your field, you have to manage a significant number of expectations and responsibilities. I am intimately familiar with the weight you carry and the time it requires, and I doubt you are looking for something else on your do list. So, as you learn how to effectively submit those many expectations and responsibilities into the spiritual context of the follower's position, remember this. God enables that which he directs.
He designed you in such a way that you can fulfill the responsibilities of life and work and remain in his presence...play the position...at the same time. Not only has he designed you for it, he provides the ability to do it.
Both God's design and his empowerment come into play with the concept of focused intensity. Sports psychologists call it "attentional control," the ability of a player in a specific position to instantly absorb a mass of data, sort and prioritize it in the contextual moment, rule out that which is unnecessary to positional responsibility, become cognitively informed by the remainder, make decisions for sequenced action, and act accordingly. And all that happens in slightly less than one second. Now that is a cool design.
You go through the process of attentional control hundreds of times in a normal day. Driving down a busy street is likely your most frequented attentional control laboratory as you watch, decide, act, and react to the movement of traffic around you. Now, you are learning to apply that skill spiritually as you intentionally seek God in a very specific and personal way. In those moments, God's Spirit in you enlivens and empowers the process...God is urging you to find him and helping you do it both at the same time.
So...it is quite possible to intentionally seek God continually in the context of an incredibly busy day. It is a matter of intentionality. Go back to the chapter on prayer for pointers. Like anything else, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. It is part of playing the position effectively.
"But from there you will search again for the LORD your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him." Deuteronomy 4:29
"Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him."
1 Chronicles 16:11
"Now seek the LORD your God with all your heart and soul... ”
1 Chronicles 22:19
"My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.'
And my heart responds, 'LORD, I am coming.'" Psalm 27:8
"If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." Jeremiah 29:13
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:33
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
If prayer is the act of communication, seeking God's face is the motivation. This is no casual thing or some kind of passive spiritual activity. Fulfillment of this essential responsibility requires purpose-driven urgency.
Now, consider the matter of urgency in this intentional act of seeking God. Think about a time you discovered something valuable was missing...not something inconvenient like losing your keys or misplacing a tool...but the fear-filled loss of someone precious in your life. There is nothing casual about this. Urgency is high. Focus is sharp. You are driven to discover that which is lost.
Listen to a story about urgency.
The degree of urgency to find someone who is lost to you is in direct proportion to the importance of the relationship.
Now...here is where you do some serious soul-searching regarding your relationship with the Lord. How precious is Jesus to you?
Jesus was asked one day what he considered to be the greatest commandment. He answered, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." Matthew 22:37
Loving with all heart, soul, and mind is an extreme standard that lifts that relationship with Jesus above all other persons and things in your life. I know you like to measure things. Do you have the courage to honestly measure the value of Jesus to you?
None           Highest Possible
I will assume that your score was somewhere less than "10". As one interested in honestly learning to play the follower's position, your interest must not be how to peg a perfect score. (That would be your pride in action.) Rather, is it how to continually move it toward "10" from where you are at any given moment. The answer to the question of how to move ever toward higher valuing Jesus is covered in the first two responsibilities...humble yourself and pray.
So...stop and review. Reenforce what you have learned before moving on.
If you find that your honest score is on the low end, stop and go back to some basics. In Chapter 1, re-listen to "The Moment" audio piece. Focus on the moment the switches came on. In Chapter 2, go back to the part on humble surrender. In Chapter 3, re-tap the parts about the on-ramp and delighting in God.
This is something you really need to dwell upon. It is easy to put on the uniform and do warm-ups with the team. You can look like you can play the position we're talking about. But, doing it is a different thing altogether. If your passion to be in the presence of God is lacking, it will show under pressure. You will lack peace and confidence...your lack of
effectiveness will be apparent.
So...it is urgent. It is also personal. Think about the intimate nature of God's instruction to "seek my face." It is a command to be up close and personal with him.
There is a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing him personally within a relationship. There are also degrees of intimacy within a relationship. Jesus' directive regarding the follower's position is to enter and remain in a continually deepening intimate relationship with him.
Here's an example of that difference. I am a wildlife photographer. My intent was to find mule deer on the snow plains west of Denver. I got a long shot of a large buck stepping out of the brush. Now, I have first-hand experience and can speak in general terms with confidence that the animals may be found there. That is an introductory level of knowledge.
But, let's say my intent expands to discover the character of a mature adult male mule deer on those same snow plains, to really get to know the animal, to understand the nuances of his behavior...a much more refined level of knowledge. The nature of the photography has to change. I have to develop skills that allow me to get close...real close.
Only then do I come to understand, not only that he exists, but intimate details of his being...the texture and color variations of his coat, the intensity of his gaze, the reasons for his behavior in the open, the scars of his battles to survive and the stores they tell.
As my frequency of engagement increases and spans different life seasons, my expertise in finding the animal, getting close to him, conforming to his environment, and understanding his behavior patterns also increase. I have sought his face and glimpsed the light in his eyes. In so doing, I have gained understanding that would not have been possible from a distance.
The skills that allow good wildlife photography apply directly to God's command to seek his face. It is the application of what Jesus taught, "Remain in me and I in you"... close, real close and staying there.
Seeking God's face implies a degree of engagement far beyond a general understanding that he exists. It is an intimate relationship marked by constant close presence, surrender to his environment, ongoing experience with his biblical revelation, and willing adoption of his characteristics. Then, with intimate understanding of who God is, who I am in relation to him, and his expectations of me, I act in obedient response to his commands.
You saw a photograph in Chapter 1, and answered some questions about it. I think it fits here too. The young boy clinging to his father, his head buried against him as they journey together...a perfect illustration of the follower's position. It is close, so close that he can hear even the whisper of his father's voice. The boy is safe as he is carried forward...perfectly supported, perfectly at peace, perfectly confident in his father's ability, perfectly at ease with the destination his father has chosen. He has found his father's face and only one thing is on his mind...to know the closeness of his father. Nothing else will do.
What about you? Is your relationship with Jesus pictured similarly?
God instructed an urgent search to find and regain that which had gone missing from the daily experience of the people...or you...the vibrant, submitted, responsive, obedient, active intentional awareness of being in the direct and constant presence of God's loving authority, power, protection, provision and grace.
All you have to do is ask to see his face. He takes care of the rest.