Acts 17:26-30 He determined… that they should seek God… and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us… Now he commands all people everywhere to repent…
A few years ago, I signed up for an endurance race that required months of training and would have taken more than half a day to run. On the day of the race, I was nowhere to be seen. I was not there because I did not train for it, at all. I was not there because I had a torn ligament in one knee. I was not there, most of all though, because I was in treatment. I had not spent the previous six months pursuing that race. I had spent six months pursuing my addiction.
On the day of the race, I could have blamed someone or something else. I injured my knee. Work consumed too much of my time. No one would train with me. Only a fool would have found any truth in those excuses. I was the reason I was not at the race. Perhaps I did not choose the destructive defects of my flesh nature, but I alone made the choice to indulge those defects.
We all know those who blame everything and everyone around them. Though they cause themselves repeated misery, they cannot see their own hand in it. They give other people and circumstances the power to make them miserable and they rely on others for their joy and meaning. Then, when life fails them, they are not to blame, the world is. My spouse is not supportive… My friends are are hurtful… My boss doesn’t appreciate me… God has abandoned me… They are miserable and everyone and everything else in the world is to blame. They are blind to the fact that they are responsible for their own misery or joy.
What is it that blinds them? That which blinds is the same power that prevented me from running that race. That which causes destruction is the same force that put me in treatment. Me. I am my own greatest life problem. I alone get to choose misery and destruction or life and joy. No one else can choose that for me. Life may bring tremendous pain, but I can choose to know God and life despite that pain.
Paul, in today’s passage, told the Athenians that God made man to seek him. He saw their altar to The Unknown God and he told them that God longs to be known. He told them how God is near to each one of us but that He desires for us to pursue him. It is only in seeking God that we find life, joy and meaning. It is only in him that we fulfill our true place in this world.
Why then do so many of us limp along without him? Why do so many of us, even as Christians, still live enslaved to our own defects? Why does God remain a stranger?
One must look no further than Christ’s words to find the answer. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). The first step in following God is getting past the barrier of me.
If we are not living the life we were meant to live, if we do not know God as we should, it is because we are following self. If we cannot hear God, it is because we do not want to hear him. If we do not know him, it is because we choose not to know him. We are our own greatest nemeses.
I am not promoting self-hatred. I am just pointing out the obvious truth that I alone stand in the way of being who I am supposed to be. The most loving thing I can do for myself to admit this truth, abandon my self-addiction and turn my gaze to God.