This morning I sit in my prayer chair with my Bible in my lap. The view outside my front room windows displays God’s handiwork. The leaves of the two large maple trees in our yard have turned to yellow and red and are falling in increasing bounty to the ground below, bedecking our front lawn with brilliant color! This morning I am keenly aware that I am a blessed woman!
My Bible is turned to the story in John 1 of the first disciples who came to Jesus. Before becoming followers of Jesus of Nazareth, they were disciples of John the Baptist. John 1:35-39 records, “John was standing with two of his disciples and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?'” They said to Him, ‘Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and you will see.’ So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day.”
It’s the two questions in this passage that caught my attention this morning. First, the question from Jesus, “What do you seek?” and then the disciples’ question, “Where are You staying?”
In John’s Gospel account, the outstanding quality that identified the first disciples was their hungry, seeking, desperate hearts. Seen first in their discipleship to John the Baptist, these men were seeking; they were on the hunt — looking for spiritual truth! And so, they became followers of John who revealed spiritual truth. But their seeking didn’t stop with John. When John lifted his finger, pointed it at Jesus and declared Him to be the “Lamb of God!” the seekers left John to follow Jesus. Their hungry, seeking, desperate hearts were not satisfied … until they met the Christ.
I love seeking hearts. I love hungry people who are on a hunt for Truth, a hunt for God. I love to look out at a congregation or pray for a woman with cancer or see a gaunt man on a street corner holding a sign that reads, “Homeless” and recognize hungry, seeking, desperate hearts. I know God loves seeking hearts too — this John 1 passage tells me so!
And the response of the disciples to the question of Jesus, “What do you seek?” is pretty fascinating. They answer His question with their question, “Where are You staying?” I can almost picture them — excited, energized, yet perhaps a little intimidated, tentative. We don’t know which one responded, but I guess that the question may have come out of his mouth spontaneously, displaying the hunger in his heart. “Rabbi, where are You staying?” Fully implied was “We just want to be where You are. We have been seeking YOU for such a long time and now that we have found you … well, we just want to be where You are.”
In the early 1990’s Prince Philip and I found ourselves living for six months in Singapore. We had just come out of years of rebellion against God and had discovered Jesus afresh in our hunger and desperation. Cleansed and renewed in His love and forgiveness and newly filled with His Holy Spirit, Philip’s job took us to Singapore where God fed us spiritually through an amazing Anglican congregation, Church of Our Savior. We were SO HUNGRY FOR GOD we just couldn’t get enough, so we found ourselves often, very often, at the door of Church of Our Savior. It was there that we sang a worship song popular at the time. I can still remember the words because the song was the theme of our life in this important season! The song was written by Don Moen and Camp Kirkland. The first disciples in John 1 would have liked the title, “I Just Want to Be Where You Are.”
Here are the lyrics to the first verse. As you read them, imagine with me those first disciples and their hungry, seeking, desperate hearts. All that could satisfy them was Jesus the Christ. And once they found Him, they knew they must be where He was!
I just want to be where You are
Dwelling daily in Your presence
I don’t want to worship from afar
Draw me near to where You are
I just want to be where You are
In Your dwelling place forever
Take me to the place where You are
I just want to be with You
Now what about us? How hungry am I today? How hungry are you? Do we still yearn for Jesus — are our hearts still seeking Him? Jesus recognized His earliest followers by their hungry, seeking, desperate hearts. And it wasn’t enough for them to simply FIND Jesus — they had to BE WITH JESUS, to be wherever He was. From Kirkland and Moen’s song again:
I just want to be where You are,
Dwelling in Your presence
Feasting at Your table
Surrounded by Your glory
In Your presence
That’s where I always want to be
I just want to be with You
In my cancer storm, I learned that it’s not enough for me to SOMETIMES seek Jesus, to SOMETIMES be hungry and desperate for Him. In my life-threatening storm, every cell of my being ACHED for Him — needing Him for every breath I took, every day I lived instead of dying. And that’s now become my “gold standard” for living. I want to live everyday all day with a hungry, seeking, desperate heart for Jesus.
If Jesus showed up in our church services tomorrow and asked, “What do you seek?” would we respond as did those first disciples, “Teacher, where are YOU staying?” If Jesus stood before us as we began each day or closed each day and whispered, “What do you seek?” would we respond in a manner like Moen and Kirkland’s song gave voice, “I just want to be where You are, dwelling daily in Your presence? Take me to the place where you are. I just want to be with You.”
Dear Ones, what do you seek today?
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.