"Listen carefully Asa, and listen Judah and Benjamin: God will stick with you as long as you stick with him. If you look for Him, He will let Himself be found; but if you leave Him, He'll leave you."The story of Asa is such a great story! (Seriously, if you have never read it, take the time today and read it for yourself!) Asa made the decision early on that he was going to follow God, really follow to the best of his ability. He tore down the pagan altars and shrines. He even removed his mother from the throne because she had built an image of Asherah, which he tore down and burned. Asa is a reminder to all of us that one good follower can make a difference!
Further on in the chapter we read about the people gathering together to offer sacrifices and to worship and it says that after the sacrifice was offered:
"They bound themselves in a covenant to seek God, the God of their fathers, wholeheartedly, holding nothing back."Asa and the people seeking God together. Can you imagine that? It must have been an awesome sight! The power of the praise and the prayers going forth. The expectant waiting to hear the word of the Lord. The Message paraphrase goes on:
"Anticipating the best, they had sought God-and He showed up ready to be found."Wow! How cool is that?!
Reading this made me start to think about how often I truly seek the Lord. Do I do it wholeheartedly? Do I seek without holding anything back? I'm not talking about those times when things are crazy busy and hectic and I have enough time to utter a 50 second prayer. I'm talking about intentional times when I am determined to hear a message. I have to be honest. I think there are times that I hold back. Why? Because I'm not so sure that I want to hear the plain unvarnished truth. I know that probably doesn't make a lot of sense but for those who know me well, they know that I am my own worst critic. I am far harder on myself than I am on anybody else! I know this because I have family and dear friends who have told me "cut yourself some slack!" They are the ones who tell me that I am too hard on myself! So when I talk about "the plain unvarnished truth" I mean being afraid of hearing love spoken, I mean being afraid of hearing that I am forgiven. Criticism I can take, cause I know my laundry list of faults. Knowing that God loves me, warts and all is hard! Because I fail. I fail so many many times, I don't deserve that kind of unconditional love! Seriously, how can someone who knows all, and sees all; someone who has been, who is now and ever will be, perfect in all things, love someone as utterly flawed and imperfect as me? It boggles my mind!
That's what grace is all about though, isn't it? It's about accepting what I don't deserve and have in no way earned, simply because God loves me. Sometimes it is harder to accept love and forgiveness then it is to accept criticism. I expect criticism, but I most definitely do not, always, expect love! For me, I have to say that I don't go into a situation expecting the best. This is perhaps, what holds me back-my own flawed expectations.
As individuals, are we afraid of hearing the truth as far as our shortcomings or are we afraid of hearing the truth that we are loved, despite our shortcomings? Do we seek God but only go so far? Do we seek God anticipating the best, or expecting the worst? How different would our spiritual lives be if we could just trust enough to seek God, without holding back and anticipate the best?
Asa's story reminds me that God is waiting to be found by those who earnestly seek him. Am I willing to step out a little further? How about you?
Look for Him because He wants to be found! Because He loves you and He Loves me!