In the award-winning film, Forrest Gump, Lt. Dan asks Forrest, “Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?” Forrest answers in one of my favorite lines, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.”
So often we hear people ask if others have “found Jesus” as if he were playing “hide-and-go-seek!” Now, we know what they mean when they ask. They mean “are you in a relationship with Jesus?” or “have you come to know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?” This is all familiar language, but I think it is contrary to God’s grace because it places a lot of emphasis on our efforts.
As Mark Allan Powell explains:
“People say that this Jesus is found in the Bible and in the church. So many say it that I think it must be true, but for me the experience has not been one of finding him anywhere. For me, Bible and church, liturgy an creed, word and sacrament, have not served to facilitate a human quest through which we might recover Jesus and restore history. Rather, they have served to disclose a divine quest through which Jesus himself redeems history and recovers humanity. In short, I never once have felt as though I were finding Jesus in any of this, but I frequently feel as though I am being found. I think of the story that way: not as the place where I look for Jesus but as the place where he finds me.” (Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, page 9)
We do not find Jesus then, rather Jesus finds us. He comes to us and meets us where we are – in the middle of the craziness we know as life. He comes to us in the quiet times when we have moments to catch our breath and he comes to us when our hearts are breaking and the world seems to be caving in around us. He welcomes us as we are – broken, sinful, worn out, wounded – you name it! He welcomes us and says “I am with you.” He does this over and over, even when we can’t seem to understand or accept it. His welcome and embrace always stand ready to receive us.
It’s not a matter of tracking Jesus down, or uncovering him, or “finding him” and thinking, “whew! I’ve got my ticket punched!” Rather it’s a matter of seeing him already there. It’s taking a moment and realizing that Jesus is present with us. It’s realizing that God comes to us in the most unexpected of ways – in a humble manager, in a poor peasant man who hangs out with the outcast, on a shameful cross… In the 21st century, God is still searching us out and speaking to us in a myriad of ways we might even find unorthodox – through a piece of rock music, through modern art, through popular films…
Jesus comes to us and says “here I am” and invites us to follow him, getting involved in the work God is doing in the world. What an incredible invitation!
I don’t think it’s about us finding Jesus and then magically having all the answers. Rather, I think it’s about God continually coming to us in surprising and unexpected ways, catching us off guard, challenging us, and moving us to a broader understanding of who God is and how wide God’s love is.
Can we let ourselves be surprised by Jesus? Can we let ourselves be found by Jesus?
© 2011. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.