I heard about a man who was drafted into the army. While in the army he developed a very strange habit. As he walked along each day he kept picking up pieces of paper, saying to himself aloud, “That’s not it!” He would pick up one piece of paper after another and say, “That’s not it. That’s not it!”
This went on for about six months. His bizarre behavior was finally brought to the attention of his superiors. They ordered him to report to the base psychiatrist. The psychiatrist asked, “What is wrong with you? What is the problem?”
The man had a baffled expression on his face as he said, “What problem? I don’t have a problem.”
The psychiatrist said, “Well, there’s got to be something wrong with you. It has been reported to me that you keep going all over this base picking up pieces of paper and saying, ‘That’s not it, that’s not it!” So, tell me, just what is it you are looking for?”
The man said, “I don’t know. I just don’t seem to be able to find it.” The psychiatrist consulted some of his colleagues, then told the man, “I think your problem is serious, and I’m going to give you a medical discharge from the Army.”
When the psychiatrist handed him the discharge papers, the man jumped up and shouted excitedly, “This is it! This is it! This is what I’ve been looking for!”
This story reminds me of an incident in the gospel of John where two men were asked the same question.
“The next day John was there again with two of his followers. When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ The two followers heard John say this, so they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following him, he asked, ‘What are you looking for?'” (John 1:35-38a, NCV)
It’s an important question for all of us. What are you looking for? On occasion, we may stumble across something we weren’t searching for, but most of the time we have no hope of finding something unless we’re looking for it. For example, I understand that there is a lot of ginseng in the mountains of North Carolina. When we lived in Boone, I knew a lot of people who found ginseng, but I never did, and I’m sure a big reason for that is that I never looked for it.
Spiritually speaking, what are you looking for? So many people miss out on much that God has to offer simply because they don’t have hearts that are searching. Are you searching for a right relationship with God? Are you searching for a congregation of God’s people? Are you searching to know God’s will in a difficult decision you’re facing? What Jesus promised is true: “Seek and you will find.” (Matthew 7:7)
By the way, those two disciples in John 1 found exactly what they were looking for. “‘We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41).
What are you looking for?
Alan Smith [email protected]