A few years ago, our family was at Disney World, strolling from one location to another, when we suddenly realized our daughter Charlie was missing.
The other kids tend to keep tabs on us, but Charlie’s a daydreamer and sometimes loses touch with her surroundings. I typically find this charming, but in that moment it was terrifying.
She was only lost for about five minutes, but it felt endless. Every detail of those five minutes is imprinted on my memory. From what she was wearing – pigtails and her Hello Kitty tank top – to where we were – The African section of Animal Kingdom. In that moment, ALL that mattered was finding her.
You could not have distracted me, even for a second, with something else. You couldn’t have convinced me that something required my focus and attention more than that. No comfort would have sufficed. I needed one thing- to find my daughter.
And once I did, I never wanted her out of my sight again. I held her close, and kept her there for the rest of the day.
Seek The Things That Are Above
I’ve been meditating on Colossians 3:1-4 over the last week and trying to pause and go deeper on words and phrases I’ve heard many times before. This is sometimes how I study, realizing that ideas in Scripture have become so familiar that I zoom right past them, and forcing myself to stop and get a fresh look on them.
One word that has caught and held my attention is “seek.”
“If then you have been raised with Christ, SEEK the things that are above, where Christ is…”
“Seek” is a word you find quite a bit throughout the New Testament. In fact, this particular word appears over 100 times. Verses containing this word are very familiar to us.
“Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you.”
“Seek first the kingdom of God.”
“Whoever seeks to keep His life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”
“The son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Those, and more verses like it, are commonly known to Christians with any familiarity with the word. But what does it REALLY mean to seek these things: Christ, His kingdom, God’s righteousness, the things above. That’s what caught my attention; what image does this word conjure up for me?
The first thing that popped into my mind is playing hide and seek with my kids. This, friends, is my least favorite children’s game. I will bribe them not to make me play it with them. It involves contorting my adult body into positions it no longer has any business getting into, and then staying there until the children find me.
Then, usually, they don’t find me, because they’re easily distracted and terrible at searching for things (see: every morning getting ready for school and not being able to find glasses, shoes, socks, brushes, homework, etc.).
Inevitably I end up coughing loudly or knocking something over to reveal my location so I can extricate myself from said contorted position. Horrible game.
This, I think, is the kind of seeking we sometimes employ when attempting to “seek the things that are above.” We give the search a little attention – 10 minutes in the Word here and there, a brief pause to pray or meditate – but are ultimately distracted by other things and aren’t fully invested in the search.
See, my kids might look for me for a few minutes but ultimately if you offered them a snack or a video game they’d abandon the search immediately without bothering to inform me.
Isn’t that often what our seeking looks like? Half-hearted, easily distracted.
Which Kind of Seeking Are You Doing?
This Greek word for seek, zeteo, can refer to simply looking for something, but when talking about seeking God, Christ, and His kingdom, it tends to mean something quite a bit stronger. In fact, you could use words like “require,” “crave,” and “demand.” You NEED it, so you seek it.
Is THIS how we seek the things that are above? Do we need Christ above all else?
To use the above examples, am I playing hide and seek, or am I looking for my lost child? Am I just sort of wandering around, looking, but ready to give up on the seeking at a moment’s notice. Or am I desperate for Him, unwilling to be deterred by earthly distractions and preferences?
I know that I’m often inclined to seek the things of earth in the name of Christ. I seek my hopes and dreams, my delights and preferences, kind of glancing up now and then to make sure He’s cool with it.
This is not the kind of seeking He’s after. Scripture says that we deny all else in order to seek Him first. We are to say, “this is what I’d like to have, do, touch, taste, see, love,” but then submit all of those things to the primary search for Him, and Him alone.
This is where the rubber meets the road, friends. Because, inevitably, some of those things you want will not line up with seeking Christ. And He will ask you to give them up. Perhaps this is why we’d rather do the half-hearted seeking; it requires so little of us.
But, as Hebrews 11:6 reminds us, “whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” The reward waiting for you is greater than the earthly thing you cannot have. Your nearness to God, both now and in eternity, is what your soul most needs and craves. It is there that your deepest desires will be satisfied.
Are you seeking the things that are above? Is it a child’s game to you, or a desperate search for that without which you cannot live?