Jeremiah 9:12-13: Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
I don’t know if you’ve ever looked for something and it turns out it was right there all the time, but not where you expected to be. Let me explain. I was rehabbing the screen door on the Rock cafeteria at our church last week, and wanted to replace the hardware cloth that protects the screen portions of the door. If you don’t know what hardware cloth is, it’s neither hardware nor cloth, kind of like the children’s string figure game, cat’s cradle. I did that for a child once, and she said, “I don’t see a cat or a cradle.” In truth, it doesn’t look much like either one. I’m pleased to report that Jacob’s Ladder does look like I imagine the real one did, except it is made of string. Not much climbing on that ladder.
Anyhow, hardware cloth is a kind of minor-league fencing material, made from wire (the hardware part) which are welded together in a lattice pattern (that’s the very loosely woven cloth part). It’s used to present a barrier to small things like rabbits or ducks. It won’t stop a tank, but few things will, other than another tank. Mercifully, we don’t have too many of those coming at the Rock kitchen door.
So, since hardware cloth comes in rolls, my first task was to unroll it. It’s very stiff, and the roll is held in place by a wire wrapped around it. I could see the wire, and surmised that it had a beginning and end somewhere (most things do, except for those that are eternal, which wire is generally not). I further supposed that the ends of the wire were twisted together at one end of the roll, which was a reasonable supposition. It was also incorrect. I couldn’t find the closing at either end. So, not wanting to take all day to open the coil of hardware cloth, I started cutting the wire at various places with some metal shears. Soon I had bits or wire flying through the air. ( I was wearing safety glasses while I was doing this, and so should you when you are cutting wires or using a striking tool. Everyone loses when we play games with safety.) As the hardware cloth, freed of its restraining wire, started to uncoil, I noticed the juncture of the wires was in fact not at either end, but in the middle, where I had not been looking for it.
All this, I thought, had to have a spiritual dimension. And it doesn’t. Sometimes we are looking for fulfillment or happiness or meaning and we think we know where to look while, as I found out, we don’t. It is when we are engaged in the work of the Kingdom that we find what we are seeking, and that is the presence and spirit of Jesus Christ. As Albert Switzer famously wrote near the end of his book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus,
He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: “Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.
Amen. Seek and you will find.