I love reading and meditating on some of Jesus’ parables. I know that I have an active imagination. But when I think about the parables of the lost coin, lost sheep and the pearl of great price my mind conjures up all sorts of images. I am amazed what people will do to seek what is lost and what they desire. I am surprised at the lengths people will go to in search of what is important to them. Some people will use extraordinary capital to track down that elusive item they want to find. Other people spend an incredible amount of time and effort in their pursuit of what is desperately important to them.
In today’s Bible reading we see once again a dour assessment of the lives of God’s chosen people in the time of Amos. They are accused of many transgressions including injustice. God looks down on them with utter despair and decides that strong discipline is necessary to turn them from their self-indulgent, unjust and arrogant ways. It was now the eleventh hour. He was about to raise up an unnamed nation to bring the nation of Israel to its knees. In fact, all that was important to the Jews would be destroyed. Yet, in the midst of this doom and gloom God offered an olive branch for a stay of execution.
This olive branch came in the form of a direction. Through Amos God said, “Seek me and live”. Israel is called to seek the Lord and, if they do so, they will receive mercy. But what does Amos mean by ‘seek’? This is an action word. Synonyms include pursue, look for, hunt for and try to find. In this instance, ‘seek’ means to turn to God in trust and confidence. Turning to God has the extended meaning of repentance and turning 180 degrees around and living a life in accordance with His directions. However, a key requirement for us in seeking God and turning to Him is that we must make time and space to listen to Him. We need to be still to hear His voice.
The Jews struggled with their opulent and insatiable lifestyle. They were too busy to listen, let alone seek God. We too are often no different to the Jews if we are honest with ourselves. We need to have the discipline to seek God and then to provide opportunity to listen. Seeking God is of great importance but listening must go hand in hand with seeking if we are to come close to God and enjoy all that He offers us through Jesus. The Psalmist encourages us to ‘be still, and know that I am God’.