Committed to the Seeking

Learning to consistently draw near to God

Apr 29, 2024

God Faith Growth Life Lessons Reflections
person inside a plant maze

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi

I looked around me at all the women gathered in this dim worship center, raised hands and eyes closed, some swaying side to side, singing their hearts out, and I felt nothing. I turned my gaze back to the stage and tried to concentrate harder on the lyrics, as if mouthing them might prompt the Holy Spirit to grace me with its presence. One of the women singing on stage was on her knees with arms lifted up. Suddenly I felt extremely out of place, like this was a club I did not belong to. I kept trying to shift my thoughts and focus back onto God, but they kept returning to the scene in front of me. One hour in, and I already felt that maybe I should never have come.

My intention in registering for my local church’s annual women’s conference was simple—connect with God and feel His presence. I had not attended one of these in years, and never at this church, which was still fairly new to me and my husband. What better way to feel God than in the presence of other like-minded women gathered together for the same reason? I thought, innocently. Connecting with other women, engaging in the workshops, and browsing the vendor hall would just be sweet bonuses.

The two-day event started off Friday evening, extending into the following day and concluding in the afternoon. I packed my Bible, my notebook, my favorite colored pen, and drove the 35 minutes to the main church campus it was being held at. I didn’t know anyone that would be attending. It didn’t matter, I was there to feel and hear from God. I’d been going through a dry season, spiritually, and really desired to feel His presence, whatever that looked like.

The conference went on as any other women’s conference, filled with worship, speakers, workshops in smaller groups, mealtime, breaks, and more worship. It concluded with parting words from the women’s ministry director. I left before she finished talking. Nothing she said was having much of an impact on me, and by that point I was feeling so discouraged, I decided there would be no point in sticking it out to the very end.

The entire weekend felt like a waste. I kept trying to connect with God and feel His presence but He was nowhere to be found.

I looked for Him in the words of the speakers, in the workshop handouts, in my journal, in the conversations with other women I met, and nothing. I left feeling spiritually dryer than when I came in. There really wasn’t any time built into the conference for stillness and reflection, but I’m pretty sure I would not have found God there either.

I came home frustrated and disheartened. I started to wonder if God was giving me the silent treatment. I know God says His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), but in that moment I really wanted to understand His ways. Was I seeking Him in the wrong ways? Was my lack of consistent Bible reading to blame for the lack of connection I felt? Did my heart have other selfish intentions with the conference that I was not conscious of? Only God knew.

Sometimes we can go chasing after God everywhere just to be met with silence. Throughout the Bible, God says that He will not leave us nor forsake us, but that doesn’t mean He will always communicate with us. Could it be that God wants to see how committed we are to seeking Him? If we are doing it wholeheartedly and with pure intent? Did He not say, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13)? So I had to earnestly ask myself—was I chasing after Him with all my heart? I wasn’t so sure.

God knows our heart far better than we ever will. But it is still our responsibility to go digging to see what we find there.

Is it pride? lust? resentment? selfish desires? a need for vengeance or glory? I’m still digging. Still sifting through the debris that life leaves, trying to find the reason behind my seeking. A part of me just wants to feel better. Another part of me wants to avoid the challenges of my life. And though God is our sanctuary, a place we can run to when we’re hurt, He is not our escape hatch. He does not ask us to become numb to our pain but to bring it before Him so He can help walk us through it.

What part of your heart have you not yet brought before God? What part are you still hiding in shame or fear? To seek God with all our heart must mean with all the parts that are broken and unclean. He wants all of you and me, even the ugly, so He can beautify it through His grace. This, I imagine, is work God loves to do.

Whether I like to admit it or not, I was not showing God my ugly.

So maybe that’s where I begin—learning how to bring it all before Him. I might still be met with silence, for now. But at least I’ll know I’m holding nothing back. There is no point in seeking God with half our heart, or anything less than all of it. Half of us cannot remain in the darkness while the other half is brought into the light. I don’t think that is ever God’s intention for us.

Sometimes God is found at women’s conferences; other times in the eyes of a stranger you meet on the street. In truth, God can be found anywhere, near or far. What I’m learning as I dig is that it’s not about how far away God feels, it’s how close we are attempting to draw to Him. Are we committed to the seeking, regardless of how we feel? Do we keep going after Him even in the dry spells? Therein lies the rub. As we answer these questions for ourselves, God will meet us along the way, ready to lovingly hold our ugly and remind us that when it comes to our faith journey, nothing is ever wasted.