“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13, NIV)
“Mama, find me!” my little brown-haired boy exclaims as he runs through the house. I hear the muted pat-pat-pat of his socked feet against the hardwood floors. Our house isn’t very big, so I take my time walking from room to room. I teasingly call out, “Is he in here? No. In here? No.” Giggles spill out from behind the clothes in my closet. “Gotcha!”
Now, the house is eerily quiet. I should hear sounds of Batman knocking over bad guys or cars shooting down the racing ramp. The silence earns my full attention. I look in all the usual places when I notice the back door is ajar.
A feeling of panic starts small in the pit of my stomach. A tiny flash of horrible possibilities sparks into a flame of worry. Instead of the teasing meander of our hide-and-seek game, I am in a mad dash out the door. My eyes scan the yard; the latch to the gate is slightly out of place. As I make my way around the house, I see my tiny son standing in the big, wide world.
He’s at the edge of our driveway talking to a stranger who’s out for her daily neighborhood stroll. Panic turns to relief (with a little embarrassment) as I rush down the slope of our driveway to collect my Houdini child. No teasing “gotcha” for this man-child. He gets a gentle but firm scolding to never, ever, ever go outside without me.
A household game of hide-and-seek is casual with low stakes. A missing three-year-old who is braver than he is wise is dangerous. Mama’s search for her son is very different in these two scenarios.
In Jeremiah’s letter to the exiled Israelites, he reassures them of God’s promises. Although they are in a strange land, God wants them to know He plans to restore them. You’ve probably heard the promise before:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, ESV).
In my early teen years, I loved to quote that promise. It made the road ahead seem bright and easy. Only life isn’t always so bright or easy. When circumstances out of my control threatened my welfare, I questioned God’s plan for my life. I stopped seeking God. I entered into a casual relationship with Him, much like the lazy way I looked for my hiding son. I became a convenient Christian–church on Sunday, a casual prayer when the road got rocky. The road only got rockier.
God’s promise stayed planted in my heart–a seed of hope that began to bloom. At the height of my uncertainty, I read the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 and kept reading. When I arrived at Jeremiah 29:13, all of the struggle and doubt made sense.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
I knew my heart was divided. Up until that point, I gave God my heart with conditions. I believed my good behavior guaranteed an easy life. When things didn’t work out that way, I abandoned my faith.
How could I expect to find God and know the plans He had for me if I didn’t search for Him with all of my heart? If I turned away from Him when life’s circumstances didn’t suit me?
I began to search for God with all my heart. I became desperate for Him–like a mama who lost her child in the big, wide world. When things are hard, I search. When life is easy, I search. Like my search for my son, I look for clues all around. I find them in the Bible, in prayer, in His people, in His creation. He is there, everywhere, showing me the plans He has for me.
If you feel lost or abandoned, know that God still has a plan for you. All He asks of you is that you search for him. Open up His Word and find His promises. Talk to Him and listen to Him in prayer. Spend time with His people to find encouragement and direction. Look for Him as He shows you His splendor in creation and His power in your circumstances. As you search for Him with all of your heart, you will find Him. ~ Kelly
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Kelly Smith is a small town girl who married a small town man. They have three children. In the quiet minutes of her day, you will find her at the keyboard or curled up with a book. Kelly believes we are created for community and loves to find ways to connect with other women who are walking in the shadow of the cross. She blogs at mrsdisciple.com.