You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12
Old treasures are exciting and satisfying. Perhaps you remember the excitement you experienced when you were a kid and got to explore your grandmother’s attic. As you opened the old, weathered trunk and browsed through the treasures hidden there, your heart went thump-thump.
In a more mature but thoughtful way some explore old literary treasures–old books, old hymns, and letters from the past which reflect the emotions and feelings of a bygone generation.
When I was in my early 20s, I spent three months in the British Isles, speaking in a different church almost every evening. On one occasion I asked George Stormont, a godly man who pastored a church near Brighton, England, “What is your favorite hymn?” He quoted words written many generations before by Ian McPherson, ones that I had never heard, which go, “If I but knew thee as thou art, O loveliness unknown,/ with what desire, O Lord, my heart would claim thee for its own.”
I asked for the words and subsequently they have become favorites of mine as well. The theme is the cry of a heart to know God as He really is, not as we suppose Him to be, and through faith to reach out and touch Him. Another line goes, “But ah, my restless spirit tires of knowing thee in part,/ Savior how my soul desires to know thee as thou art.”
Do you ever feel like that? Deep within your heart is the desire to break through the clouds and see Him clearly, to clear away the misconceptions and the fog that keep you doubting and to know Him as He really is.
The first New Testament book to have been written, so say scholars, with the possible exception of an early account of Matthew written in Aramaic, was the book of James. This was written by the half-brother of Jesus Himself, and in this book there is a great promise. It is this: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, NKJV). We are often like a little child, lost in a large crowd, crying for his mother who is searching for him, yet the child hears her voice but can’t see her because of the crowd.
Whatever obstacles keep you from drawing near to the Father have to be pushed aside and you run toward Him with all your might and strength. With open arms He will receive you, wipe away your tears, and hold you to His bosom.
Immediately following the statement about drawing near to God, James has some pretty straight advice. He says, “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” And what does that mean? Far more than just soaping your hands and wiping them clean on a towel. Two steps: First, “wash your hands” means get rid of the wrongs which separate you from God–the obstacles you have placed in the path to God. The Bible calls them “sins.” Then make the decision to reach out to God. James talks about being “double-minded”–a kind of spiritual schizophrenia which a lot of people possess. They would like to reach out to God, but at the same time they want to hold on to the world.
A. W. Tozer wrote, “The man who would know God must give time to him.” He’s right. If you want to know God, then take time to read His Word, and go beyond that as you study and comprehend it. God’s Word is quick and vibrant. It provides guidance and correction and shows you how to draw near to God. If you would know God, you must also take time to meditate on Him, to learn that prayer is communion with Him and that He hears the cry of His child reaching out to Him.
Resource reading: Jeremiah 29:10-14