Our advent text for 2015, Isaiah 55, contains one of the most compelling invitations from the Lord in all of sacred Scripture. If you have not spent time pondering or meditating upon this chapter, I invite you to do it as a way to re-turn your heart to the Lord this Christmas season. Through these thirteen verses, God pleads with Israel, and likewise all who read it, to seek Him. However, there may be some who do not really know how to “seek the Lord” or have forgotten what this looks like. For others, it may appear to be too mysteriously strange because it is a call for relationship with God as opposed to a religious duty to perform. So for those who know Him and for those who don’t, consider these three steps in seeking Him.
Firstly, “call upon Him while He is near” (v6a). In our culture, “call” can refer to a phone conversation or a shout across the room. Either way, it is a word which symbolizes an interpersonal conversation. Seeking the Lord requires that we talk and listen to God. We need to linger in the presence of God, as Zechariah did in Luke 1, to offer our petitions and concerns to a God who hears, and then listen when He speaks.
Secondly, “let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous his thoughts” (v7). Anyone who is authentically seeking the Lord will recognize that our spirit becomes uneasy before Him when there is unholy actions or thoughts in our lives. After we become aware of these barriers, there becomes a very real need for us to say “no” to some things in the future. Sometimes it may mean dramatically shifting our priorities like Zacchaeus who gave away half of his wealth because it corrupted his heart (see Luke 19). What does this look like for you?
Thirdly, “let him return to the Lord” (v7). Return is a verb which demands action. No one can return to something without moving. This is what we need to do in seeking the Lord. We need a strong commitment to keep traveling towards our God, like the wise men in Matthew 2, and not allowing schedules, weariness or any other obstacle get in the way of getting closer to Him.
Sadly, from my perspective as a church leader for over a decade, very few people, even church goers, actually put forward the effort to seek the Lord. If you need some motivation to draw near to the Lord of Lords, verse 7 provides it for us. “That that the Lord may have compassion on him…for He will abundantly pardon.” The active compassion of God and His invitation to abundant life and freedom are available to all who will seek Him. This is tremendous news! But the question which lays before us all is: Are you willing to seek the Lord while He may be found? May our collective answer always be "yes!"