I remember when I was growing up, there would be times when my parents or other grownups would misplace something. Maybe car keys. A feverish and frustrating search would ensue – as would some colorful metaphorical language – and eventually the lost object would be reclaimed. After grateful shouts and perhaps a few more exhibitions of colorful metaphorical language (this was, after all the old days of our family), inevitably the adage “It’s always the last place you look for it,” would resound.
It wasn’t until I was a little bit older that the obviousness of this statement struck. Innumerable acknowledgements of the apparent nature of this statement have clogged the internet for years, but back then … as the smart-alecky kid that I was … I couldn’t help but say, “Well OBVIOUSLY it’s the last place! Why would you keep looking for it once you’ve found it?” Suffice to say, that didn’t endear me to the grownups around me, but hey, what’s an observant kid to do?
But as I started my new reading plan for 2016 this week – reading through Psalms and Proverbs for the first half of the year (the rest is still TBD), as passage struck me thematically about how we frequently are searching for something but make the most important place to look the last place that we look. Reading through Psalms 4 – 9 and Proverbs 1, I camped out on Psalms 9:7-12.
But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from his throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds. For he who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer.
When it comes to the challenging circumstances in our lives, I submit we tend to make God the last place we look. For help, for guidance, for support, for peace, for all that we need. But why would we make God the last place we look? Unlike our car keys, He’s always there. In fact, if we don’t see Him, it’s because we’re looking elsewhere, choosing not to see Him right there in front of us. This passage in Psalms 9 says it well … “you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you … He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer.”
But disregarding those truths (and many more in scripture) we look to so many other things first. Often, we look to ourselves. This is perhaps the most perplexing approach. Let’s face it … self-help is silly … principally because in these times WE are the person that got ourselves in the mess in the first place … why would we try to be the solution when we’re so often the problem?
We also look to the culture around us. We look to friends. We look to so-called “experts.” None of these sources ever holds the key, so to speak. They’re wholly unsatisfying, and take us in the wrong direction all too frequently. Why? Because in the end, none know us as well as God does (He created us after all). None have the full perspective of knowing what was, what is, and what is going to be true about us. None love us unconditionally and sacrificially the way He does.
Perhaps the reason we make God the last place we look is that we have a sense that His answer isn’t what we’re seeking in our flesh. We usually look to God and ask Him to do what WE want, rather than what He wants. But as noted above, we are typically the problem and apt to be the opposite of the solution, and we are as limited in our knowledge and wisdom as culture, friends, and “experts.”
Or maybe the reason we make God the last place we look is because we’re afraid to confront a harsh reality – the equivalent of our keys being in our pocket or purse the whole time (ever do that with glasses???). God says he stands right in front of us, constantly longing to be the first place we look, because He holds to key to finding all we’re truly seeking.
If you’re looking everywhere else and not finding the answer, please look to God … the sooner the better because He can be the first place we look AND the last place we look. He should be.
Let’s go before God in prayer this week and ask Him to show us areas where we’re looking everywhere else than Him. Let’s ask Him to remind us to stop looking at all the wrong places and to look in the right place first (Him). Let’s ask Him to give us the courage to accept whatever the reality is … even if the keys are in our pocket.
Soli Deo gloria!