In all sorts of things we want to do it is important to choose the right tools. Old West pioneers could bring down trees for their log cabins by chopping them with an ax. Even better, though, is a saw. Someone trying to fell a tree with their pocket knife, however, may no longer have their right mind.
It is also important that the tools are in good working order. If you are going to need a Philips head screwdriver, it is important that it is not worn down, right? That’s what makes God’s choice of Saul to become the Apostle Paul a bit confusing. Jesus told Ananias in Acts that he had chosen Saul especially for the work of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. He said,
“he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:15-16 ESV).
But even Paul knew how odd a choice this was. It was like choosing a flat head screwdriver that is broken when you need the Philips head. Paul described it this way:
“though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent,” (1 Timothy 1:13).
The important thing, of course, is that God took Paul who was completely unfit for this work and made him fit for it, “and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 1:14).
As disciples of Jesus, we are all chosen instruments of God for good works as long as we live (Ephesians 2:10). We only need to trust God’s choice and His power to form us and lead us according to His will
Who doesn’t like a good game of Hide-and-Seek? Many of us do not play this game anymore, but we have fond memories of doing so. It is a challenge to find new and better hiding places in which to remain undetected until the opportunity comes to make a dash for “home base.” It is a challenge to be “it” and have to explore the nooks and crannies wherever someone may be hiding; then to suddenly chase one who is running for safety. (We played it as a modified game of “tag.”)
Seeking and finding in that game is not difficult, really. It only requires persistence. The person who is hiding will be found, if you just open the right door, disclosing where they are. Or, perhaps they are behind the drapes, or under the bed. Wherever they are, once you come to that place, they cannot remain hidden.
In the Bible, a person’s relationship with God is described as a sort of “seeking” and “finding” Him. For example, in Acts 17, Paul described non-Jewish and non-Christian religions as a form of “groping after” God (v. 27). They were seeking, but not yet able to find God. In another place, God Himself invites people to seek Him, and He promises that they will be able to find Him.
However, we need to understand that finding God is not like finding someone in a game of Hide-and-Seek. God is not anywhere that we can expose Him, forcing Him to come out of hiding. He is not merely behind some door, or up in a tree, or on a mountain, or at the conclusion of a list of religious practices.
God will only be found when He chooses to be found, when He allows us to know Him. So, it is also important for us to understand that God has promised to make Himself known only to those who are a certain kind of seeker.
He has said that He will only be found by those who seek Him in order to know and do His will (Prov. 8:17). If we seek Him for what we already have in mind to do or be, He will withhold Himself still (Hos. 5:6). Only if we humble ourselves, intent on submitting in obedience to His will whatever that may be, will we be blessed to find God.
Nathan Wheeler is the Pulpit Preacher for Eastside Church of Christ in Farmington, NM. Nathan is also a candidate for the PhD in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University.