Life, Hope & Truth

From the May/June 2019 issue of Discern Magazine

Searching for God, Part 2

Part 1 of “Searching for God” focused on answering the questions, “Can we find God if He is hiding from us? Would He do that and, if so, why?” This time we look at the other side of the coin: Can God find us?

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Thrusting a Bible toward his brother, the man threw down the challenge: “I want you to show me in here exactly where it says that we are to worship on Saturday instead of Sunday!”

The conversation at the family gathering had grown heated. One person, particularly offended that one of his kin abandoned the family’s faith, had zeroed in on the Sabbath-or-Sunday doctrine, aiming to prove him wrong and return him to the fold.

“I can do that, but first answer this,” his brother calmly countered. “If I prove from the Bible that the seventh-day Sabbath is the day God made holy, will you change your worship from Sunday to Saturday?”

As a dozen witnesses looked on, the man stared hard at him for several seconds, then angrily blurted out, “Oh, forget about it—I can’t reason with you!” Turning on his heels, he walked away.

Or, to put it a different way, he went into hiding. He hid his eyes from seeing the truth of the Bible, from seeing the knowledge of God.

In the first of this two-part article series we saw from the Bible that, yes, God does hide from humans, but for good reason. It’s because His children, beginning with Adam and Eve, have continually hidden from Him!

That leads to the second critically important question for anyone who says he or she is searching for God.

Question 2: Can God find you if you’re hiding?

The true story of the family argument is one of someone hiding from truth that could have come to light. Perhaps it was pride at work—it’s common for us to fear embarrassment over being proven wrong.

Maybe it was subconsciously hiding from the commitment to change that the truth would require.

The proud young man who came to Jesus asking what he had to do to obtain eternal life fell victim to that fear when Jesus revealed a spiritual weakness that he would have to change. “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me,” Jesus said. “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22).

He, too, went into hiding from God.

Adam and Eve hid from God, conjuring up the excuse that they feared Him because they were naked.

In the Isaiah 53:3 prophecy of Jesus Christ’s first coming, it says, “And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

When He did appear on earth, He told a group of the most religious people of the day, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

In other words, even when we humans say we desire to know God, we easily find ways to hide from Him, His truth, His authority over our lives. We hate to admit it, but it is a common trait of human nature!

“Where are you God?” is a great question to ask. But understand, God is also wondering, “Where are you?”

Here are three essential things He will be looking for to see if we really want to find Him.

  • We hide from God when we are not wholehearted and deeply humble.

“But on this one will I look,” God tells us, “On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2). God has seen so much pride and stubbornness from humanity, but rarely meekness and submissiveness toward Him and His Word.

God has seen so much pride and stubbornness from humanity, but rarely meekness and submissiveness toward Him and His Word.We find a great lesson about this in the story of Judah’s captivity. For many centuries they played around in their relationship with God, repeatedly crying out to Him in times of trouble, promising to follow Him, only to go straight back into the same sinful practices. Finally, to their shock, God ended their game, allowing Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and take them captive.

But in His mercy He sent Jeremiah with a message that after 70 years their plight would end. Notice His admonition, though, in Jeremiah 29:13: “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Hundreds of years before that, David explained the same principle to his son Solomon. He instructed him, “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9). God reiterated this in Jeremiah: “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (17:10).

Back to David’s counsel to Solomon—David assured him, “If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.”

God is clear: If you search for Him with all of your heart, with a deeply humble approach of trembling at His Word, you can find Him.

  • We hide from God when we change or misinterpret what He tells us to do in order to fit our own desires.

Both biblical and historical records show people have always done this. In His time, Jesus confronted the Pharisees with a quote from Isaiah, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:6-7).

He continued, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men,” and “all too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”

Finally, He concluded, they were “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down” (verses 8-9, 13).

Nearly 2,000 years later, human traditions have pervaded the various Christian religions more than ever.

If you are willing to recognize and discard “the traditions of men,” and instead live by God’s pure Word, you can find Him.

  • We hide from God when we are not willing to do what He tells us.

When being tested by Satan, Jesus countered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’” (Luke 4:4).

Searching for God includes searching ourselves. Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.” As God reveals Himself through His Word, the test for us is whether we are willing to “turn back to the LORD” and live by “every word of God.”

This is where many people have stumbled in their search for God—they want to pick and choose what they are willing to do.

Remember Jesus’ statement that He was the light that came into the world, but that humans tend to love darkness rather than light? He was so right! However, in that same conversation, found in John 3:19-21, He offers a wonderful promise—and a big test: “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

God wants us to find Him, to come to the light! In fact the goodness of God leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). But the test for us is always whether or not we will do the truth. Are we willing to act upon the truth that He reveals, to follow and obey Him, even if it means completely changing our way of life? Our deeds, He says, will clearly show Him the answer!

Coming to the light is actually a lifelong process of steadily learning more and more about the mind and ways of God. The Holy Spirit—which works with people who are responding to God and which resides in those who have repented of their sins and been baptized—continually “searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). But God gives His Spirit only “to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32).

If you show God that you will indeed do the truth—conduct your life according to the understanding He shows you in His Word—you can find Him.

Where are you?

Someday all humanity will discover that God was hiding in plain sight—but we couldn’t find Him if we were hiding our eyes from Him. Proverbs 2:1-5 gives us the critical keys for successfully searching for God:

“My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”

Finding God

What happened to the man in India described in the last issue, who typed into the Internet search engine the question, “Where are you, God?”

Well, he prepared his heart according to those criteria! He sincerely, wholeheartedly and humbly searched God’s Word; he rejected the reasoning and traditions of men and accepted only what he read in the Bible; and, most important, he was willing to change his life to follow what God showed him to be true.

There is no greater quest for each of us than to seek the answer to “God, where are you?” And there is no greater test for each of us than when God says, “I’m right here, revealed in My Word—but where are you?”

Take the next step by studying our guided Journey “Knowing God.”

About the Author

Clyde Kilough

Clyde Kilough is Media operation manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He and his wife, Dee, live in the Dallas, Texas, area.

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