I think I was always looking even when I did not know who I was looking for. Like any child, my days were spent doing small things in my small world but I remember a vague yearning, a searching for something outside myself. Lying on my back in the grass, gazing up into the limitless blue sky, I wondered who had made it all so beautiful. Surely this amazing world had a Maker and if the Maker made the world, then he made me too. So I went looking for him.
The cardboard Jesus stuck on a flannel board at Sunday School hardly fit my idea of a Maker. His pristine robes and benign expression belonged to someone who appeared too mundane to explode a universe into being, no matter what my teacher said. So I kept on looking.
I looked within my family and friends, but their love stayed on the plane of earth, imperfect and variable. I looked for the ultimate answer in education and knowledge, but came away confused by too many contradictory ideas. I ran fast after romantic love, thinking all questions would be answered through the heart, but found it to be a tender organ, quick to bruise and slow to heal.
The gravity of this world held me down. My eyes saw horizontally, my time taken with looking after my physical needs day after day. Yes, I was looking, but through squinted eyes, instead of opening them wide to the reality of a Maker who is Messiah, the anointed, God with us. I didn’t bother to look up, to raise my eyes to the Risen One, to recognize that death had no hold on Him.
Years later when the words of God took on life for me, I saw my seeking self in the women who came to Jesus’ tomb after his burial. They expected to find an earth-bound Jesus, no longer reachable, his body cold and gray in death. Reality was much different. “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.’ ” (Matt. 28:5-6 NIV) They were looking for the living among the dead, as the angel said. But Jesus was not there. He was alive again! And later he appeared to them in the flesh.
It wasn’t until the painful weight of this world pushed my face in the dirt that I truly looked. Looked up with sin-caked eyes, desperate to be loved no matter what, yearning for a life beyond this. Looked up because to look down meant death. Looked up to discover a free, forgiven, forever eternity with Jesus, the lover of my soul. He once said, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40) When I believed, then I discovered He had been looking at me all this time, waiting to welcome me into His embrace.
I am still looking, but not because I am still seeking. I have found who I was looking for all my life, even when I did not know who He was. I am looking to Jesus now because He is beautiful to me, in His perfection, in His power, in His compassion. And I will never stop looking.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)