#Searching by Peggy

That’s not a typo in the title, it really is a #. It was always called a pound sign, or number sign. Now it is commonly known as a hashtag. I’m always fascinated by the way meanings of things change over time.

Put a hashtag in front of every random thought that comes into your head (as long as it’s not more than 140 characters), and post it on twitter, the facebook and every other social media tool at your fingertips. And people will “follow” you. They may respond back with their own 140 character #thought. It’s quick. It’s fast. It’s downright viral. #instantgratification.

But what are we looking for?  Is there a thirst for knowledge anymore?

Our school systems are inundated with common core, and PARCC testing. Little kids are being taught to the test, rather than having their minds expanded as thinkers. All they can think about is how they will do on the test, how to take the test. Little kids put in front of computers to bang out answers like robots that will help the school get better grades.  Are they being taught the treasure of a good book? Are they given the time to delve into a book to get lost in the story and the wonder of the written word so their imaginations take flight? Someone recently told me her granddaughter always loved to read. Loved a good book. Until “ #teachtothetest” education was mandated. Now she hates to read. It has become a chore. See how quickly you can read and spit out an answer if asked a question. No time to linger. No time to appreciate the enormity of talent that writer may have. Just #learnit. #dummyingdownouroffspring. God have mercy!

Some of the times of greatest learning in my life have been the times that I actually stopped to linger awhile. Taking the time to read a good book. Or a newspaper. Taking the time to linger over a cup of coffee with a friend. Taking the time to question something, then seek and search for the answer. No hashtag, no urgency. Just search until finding what I am looking for.

About eleven years ago, a young girl came to me with some problems she was having in her life. She suffered through the abomination of years of sexual abuse at the hands of her father and her brother. She was convinced she was worthless and was put on earth for no other reason than to be used and abused. As she grew older, she became a very promiscuous teenager, a drug addict and a prostitute. She told me she sought out men and sold herself because that was the only way she knew how to get approval of any kind. She came to hate men so much that she then turned to women.  This poor girl really had no idea who she was or why she was ever born. She had a breakdown and crashed hard. She came to me to ask me about God.

This  girl was in such a state that she couldn’t even function and carry out the basics of daily living, like getting up and brushing her teeth. I didn’t know how to help her. There was no hashtag thought to fix it. I prayed with her. I told her about Jesus. I answered her questions about God. I told her to seek God, and she would find Him. But I knew that she, in this fragile state, would never be able to throw herself into a Bible study or church.  She literally spent days not even getting out of bed. So I gave her a “God’s Promises” booklet that I had.

She later told me that every day she would read a sentence or two from that book. It was not a Bible, but had Bible verses all listed under categories. Every day she told me she would just lay on her couch, and read at least one sentence from that book. That was the biggest goal she could set for herself: just read one sentence, one verse a day. Over time, she got better. She became functional again. And she said she found God. She found that when she asked Him a question, she would pick up that book and read one sentence, and she found Him. Through all of her suffering during that time, at her lowest point, the point of suicide, she found her answers, one verse at a time.

That, my friends, is searching. It took time. There were no facebook and twitter in 2004. # was still a number or pound sign. But that little book of verses, that was the hashtag tool of the day. One little verse at a time. For her, reading that one verse a day allowed her to understand what I tried to tell her when she asked me about Jesus. The living Word, the healing Word.

This is what I say to you this Easter: Seek for truth, seek God. Linger and search, or #search, one verse at a time, but do it. You will see, you will know. “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”   Jer. 33:2, 3

After I gave the other authors of this blog the topic for this month, I came across a poem I wrote on 3/17/2004. I wrote it after that girl told me how she had found God to be the answer to her questions. It tells her story.   My prayer for you is that you are blessed and refreshed in His awesome presence!

There on My Face

There on my face I was broken,

Felt my heart had been flayed open

To be cleaned by the Hand of the Lord.

Such ugliness was inconceivable;

Such pain unimaginable.

Being cleaned by the Hand of the Lord.

There on my face I saw Him

His eyes of mercy and love fell on me

My heart is healed by the Hand of the Lord.

There on my face I was raised up

To the place of intimate surrender

To know Him, to love Him, to serve Him.

Lifted by the Hand of the Lord.

#Searching by Barbara

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen!
Luke 24:1-6

Most of us are aware when reading this passage of scripture it is the story of Jesus’ resurrection. It is the first part of verse 6 that stands out to me the most; He is not here.

When reading the account in John 20, we find Mary Magdeline telling Simon Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and John then search the tomb and come to the same conclusion, Jesus is not here. The story discloses that they did not understand the scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.

When pondering this it brings back memories of my own search for God. From the time I was a little girl, I knew that God existed. Even though I went to religious schools for 12 years it did not help me in my search. Like I said, I knew He existed and I would pray to Him but He just seemed so far away and out of reach. Moreover, instead of being taught of a loving God, I always felt that God was disappointed in me and I would never measure up. For years, I felt that something was missing in my life and felt so empty all the time. I searched for God in all the wrong places and got deeply involved in the occult. I tried transcendental meditation and at first it was great. I felt very relaxed and peaceful but it wasn’t long before I started to experience things from the dark side and I will leave it at that. Just like the tomb, Jesus was not there. I experimented with astral projection and all that did was make my bedroom haunted. God was not there either. I read tarot cards for friends and family and I even dabbled in white witchcraft.  After all, it had to be noble as I was just trying to help people BUT God was not there and I continued to feel empty. The fear I felt all the time was debilitating. It is not too much of a stretch to say I was afraid of my own shadow. Sleeping with a light on every night was the norm. If the electric went out at night I turned into a total whack job. I could sense evil all around me in the darkness and I panicked. I even screamed at times.

One day, I was talking with a girl I worked with. A friend told her, she was walking home at night alone when a man approached her with wicked intent. She said something similar to, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus.” The man’s face became fearful and he just ran away. This got my attention real quick. I wanted to know, who is this man Jesus? Sure, I heard about Him in school but not like this. The pictures they showed us in school portrayed a pathetic weakling that couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag. But this Jesus, had power and I wanted to know more. I can’t remember the details but somehow I heard about the Charismatic Renewal and discovered that my own local church was a part of it. I got saved and guess what? HE WAS THERE. I FOUND HIM and He found me! That was almost 40 years ago and I never looked back. That empty feeling? Gone! The fear? Gone! All those things I was involved in during my search were dead and empty but now I found the resurrected God. He is alive!!!!!!

Here’s a few additional Bible verses about searching for God.

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:8 (NIV)

“This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: 3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Jeremiah 33:2-3 (NIV)

Most of us are searching for something as we know there is more to life than what we experience. If you are searching, I hope I can help you avoid taking the wrong paths that I did. Jesus is the answer to your search. He paid such a heavy price to have a relationship with us. He was beaten beyond recognition, spat upon, humiliated and crucified and died for us. It doesn’t end there. He rose again. The tomb is empty but our life in Him is not.

You may be searching for God and not even know it. If you have not asked the Lord to be part of your life, and you find yourself thinking, “there has got to be more than this!” That is God speaking to you. He is calling you and it is up to you to seek Him. If you seek Him you will find Him.

If you are a Christian and you are feeling the same thing, “There’s got to me more than this!” That is the Lord drawing you into a deeper walk with Him. This is where I am now. I know the Lord but I’m not satisfied. It is like my thirst can’t be quenched. It may sound like a bad thing but it is not. We should always want more of Him. We never arrive but like Andrew Wommack says, “but at least I already left.” In other words, take the first step and begin seeking the Lord for the deeper things.

Just to be clear. There is a difference between feeling there has got to be more and feeling empty. Empty is when we feel our life has no meaning or we just exist. The feeling we get that cries “There’s got to be more,” is because there is more.  We continually grow every day. As we spend time with Him, He reveals more to us but we should always be hungry for more. I read or heard about great men and women of God talking about their relationship with Him. They share some amazing stories regarding their encounters with the Lord. I yearn to be where they are YET they feel like they barely scratched the surface and still hunger for more. It is a never ending, exciting and wonderful journey so just enjoy the ride.  He lives and He loves us. Happy Resurrection day everyone!

#Searching by Andrea

I am not going to attempt to explain how we search for the things of this world.  When I was young, we went to the library for our information.  Today we have a world of libraries at our finger tips.  Yet we don’t seem to be more intelligent or any happier for all the convenience of the internet and it’s searching tools…

     I thought when I first saw # searching…. “searching for something worth dying for”. It seems that is the one thing we all have in common. A need to have something worthy of our life… something to die for. Yet Christ has asked us not to die for Him but to live for Him. We are to live honestly, openly proclaiming our faith and openly confessing our sins one to another. The search ends when we stop trying to find Christ and ask Him to unravel the desires of our hearts. I personally ask the Lord to make my desires align with His, simply bc I’ve learned that is the path of peace and wholeness in my life. But I am fully aware others have a different idea about what Christ wants or expects. I laugh as we “the church” tries to align itself into an image of Christ that we have found. If and when the body of Christ ever looks up, we’ll see that everyone has their own image, their own desires, their own searching tool for what they deem important in their lives. Even in something so important as our view of God.

     There is nothing I have that is worthy of the life Christ gave for me. There is no reason to search anymore. No reward, or idea that I need to search out… today I only wish to end the search and accept the gift of life, given through Christ. A life, I believe will be eternal but not one that begins after this life but one that began when  Christ was speaking the worlds into existence. Did He see me as I am today? I can’t answer that but my sense is that He did. There is no striving or searching that will change what Christ saw as eternity proceeded from the sound of His voice.

     The day I found Christ or rather, realized Christ in my life, the search was over. Only the accepting is left. Only the need to receive all that has been provided for me and those who have chosen to follow Christ with me…. what ever that looks like: Catholic, Protestant, Charismatic, denominational or by what ever name we have chosen to divide this body of Christ. My search is over, it is time to enjoy the journey.

     As Resurrection Sunday (Easter)  approaches I am aware of His presence in my life but I’m also aware of His presence in your life. In the lives of those who choose another path, of those who do not choose Christ. The Lord makes it rain on the just and on the unjust. His Spirit touches His followers and those who choose not to follow. So I ask everyone everywhere…. ask Him. Are you in my life? Do you have a plan for me? Open yourself to the possibility of Our Creator, God as a searching tool. The next time you have a question search #Lord Jesus, do you have my answer?

God bless, may you come to know the comfort and love of our Savior Jesus Christ as we celebrate the victory of the cross, His death for our life, andrea