One of the best speeches I ever heard occurred before I was ever part of the world’s largest speakers bureaus. I was a counselor at Kanakuk, a camp focusing on helping inner-city kids, located in Golden, Missouri. We were at the end of “Work Week”, the week we spent cleaning, raking, clearing limbs, painting, and doing anything else that needed to be physically done to prepare the camp for students before they arrive. We’d also spent the week studying and learning more about the Bible, doing prayer walks around the camp, and preparing ourselves and the place spiritually to prepare for the students.
Almost all of the counselors were collegiate athletes in one sport or another. We’d all gotten to know each other pretty well, and were excited to hear each other say something. We were surprised when the quietest guy in camp stood up. He was a big linebacker from an Oklahoma school who I’d only heard say 5 words the whole week But as he began, we realized that even though he didn’t talk, much, boy, could he speak.
He began by saying there is one thing you need to know about the Bible. Everything point to Jesus, from Old Testament prophecy to the scripture of the New Testament. But what about us? What is our guidance? As you’re preparing to mentor kids with tough backgrounds, or as you’re getting ready to graduate or whatever situation, what do you need to do?
There is one phrase you need to live by, one phrase you need to know. Here he paused, and opened his Bible to a verse that I’m sure he knew ahead of time- Amos 5:4.
“These are the words you live by,” he said, and then quoted the verse, “SEEK ME…AND LIVE.”
Seek me and live. It’s so simple, yet so hard to do. It’s been years, but I still remember that talk, I remember that pause, I remember that verse.
Some people think that you accept Jesus into your heart, get your ‘fire insurance’ so to speak, and that’s it. But no, you need to continuously seek Him, and then continue to live.
I came across the verse again and something new struck me. When should you seek God? When Amos writes this great call to action, it’s not when things are doing well. It’s when Israel is really messing up. We need to seek God when we’re messing up.
I love doing some sleuthing and checking out the middle section (highlighted on the picture), of when ‘seek me’ is used in other places in the Bible.
In Deuteronomy 4:29, God realizes that even though he’s given his people the promise land, over time, they might forget him. When the bad things start to happen, and when the enemy approaches, “if you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him.”
When you are in distress, seek God- and you’ll find him!
In Deuteronomy 32:47, Moses reminds us, “These are not just idle words- they are your life.”
In Isaiah 55:3, Isaiah is talking to people who are thirsty but can’t be quenched, “Give an ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”
He knows there is only one thing that can satisfy us.
In one of the more famous verses we hear (and for good reason) is Jeremiah 29:11-13 (specifically 13). Jeremiah writes to the Exiles, those who had been carted off as slaves to Babylon. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 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 seek me with all your heart.”
When you are in ‘exile’, when you’re not where you’re ‘supposed’ to be, seek him.
So when do you seek God? You don’t have to be perfect. When you’re messing up, when you’ve fallen away, when you’re thirsty for more from life, when you’re in exile, and when you want to live. That’s when you seek him, and live.