My latest Beth Moore bible study has me on a Quest. She’s highlighted five simple questions within the bible that I am hooked on, quite honestly. This little blog post is on the third question,
What are you seeking?
Interestingly, all five questions were asked directly by God or Jesus. John 1:38 goes like this “Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
Rather than a challenge, it was a kind inquiry respecting their desires1. He lovingly asks what they are seeking from a true relationship with Him. The question is a reminder that Jesus encourages us to think big picture, to keep our eyes on the prize. How often are we really asking ourselves this: What do you really want when you follow Jesus? I think we are often stuck in the statements rather than the exploration-driven questions that lead us to new places.
Questions are one of the most powerful ways to communicate and create connection, learning, intimacy. As a leadership coach, my success depends on the power of my questions to evoke thoughtful inquiry and action from a client. The question ‘what do you want’ is actually a coaching question I ask in every single coaching session, in various formats. What is the goal here for you? What do you really want from this? What is your ideal outcome? What is your hope? It elevates their thinking out of the circumstance or problem at hand and into the realm of intention.
I love to picture Jesus the great communicator using parables and wise questions. The Lord is constantly pulling us back into His presence with questions and promptings from the Holy Spirit. He is constantly inviting us to be intentional with our lives. What are you seeking? It’s a thirty thousand foot question that pulls you right back to where you should be. With Him. Above the mire and muck and busy-ness and distractions. Pondering the current reality, the future, the promises of a faithful God and his desire to be with us, the hope of the “what else”. As followers of Jesus, we are called to know our gifts, our identity in him, to seek and ask and knock. To know our source of all good things and then take up our cross, be intentional, and go after what we seek, with him by our side, in peace as we pursue what He has for us.
The answer to the question drives your focus and mindset, which drives your behaviour. Recently, this ‘what are you seeking’ question brought me to look at what I am NOT seeking as much anymore, which can absolutely be a good thing in a faith journey. Last year, upon a particular personal growth discovery moment, I wrote a journal entry titled, The Beginning of Losing Approval. It was a poetic moment of release at that point in my life, when I was beginning to realize that inside the angst I feel around reading or posting social media updates, that I have been not only feeling “less than” others (less sincere, less compassionate, less motivated, less funny, less smart), I have actually been seeking approval from others.
It seems to have stemmed from an idea I grew up with that high performance and diligence gets results, as well as praise, admiration. I would not call myself an A type personality, but I have had my roots of success come from self-discipline at school, taking on responsibilities as the oldest child, and being tied to a moral code that kept me comfortable as a “good girl”. Add onto this, the Generation X element of my reality, with very little interference or mentorship during my youth or early career. I am grateful for these choices and my upbringing of faith and accountability and independence. But I suppose from that scarcity, there has also been a subtle craving for attention. Recognition is not one of my core values, in fact I rather thrive in my roles of Supporter and Encourager versus First in Command, but I realize, like all humans, being seen is uplifting and something I need.
Thankfully, like His child, God loves me in this way. He sees me all the time. He knows my thoughts, my true sentiments despite my weakness in articulating what I am feeling verbally in the moment. He knows what I mean. He likes the true me because he created me exactly this way. I have come to take comfort in a new reality, as I grow into my 50’s self-confidence and my dependence on Jesus for peace. I am stepping into that enveloping love of a more important audience.
This growth in my journey with Jesus has empowered me to seek less approval and more self-love, more self-confidence, less guilt about not loving social media, less pressured to update people and to surround myself with people who like being with me. I want more time with Him, I enjoy the ease of being with Him. I like His assurances, his promises, his certainty about me, his care for me and my worries, his faithfulness to me regardless of my absences, sinfulness, naivete, or ignorance. I am letting myself sense his chin-lifting love (Psalm 3:3 ESV) and his strong hand of working wonders in my life (Exodus 15:11).
He does the work with me. It is He who makes me as sure-footed as a deer, ready to tread upon the heights (Hab 3:19). ‘Heights’ that he has set up for me in advance to reach. This truth and these reassurances bring me back. He is a promise-keeper, a way-maker, a rest giver. So I will seek the relationship, the Spirit, the presence of God.
‘What are you seeking’ is a necessary grounding question that we can challenge ourselves with on a daily basis. In addition to “where are you?” and “who told you that?”, it is a powerful, loving reminder from the voice of Truth to stay aware of the bounty, riches, fruit of the spirit, abundance that comes from bearing our cross and trials and following the Wise Question Asker.
Ultimately, I think we are all seeking some sort of freedom. Our ultimate freedom will come in Heaven, yes. But also I hear these words from Paul for today’s battles and pursuits: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor 3:17).
My prayer is that we are all seeking the Spirit.
1Barnes’ Notes on the Bible