Seek the Lord while he wills to be found;*
call upon him when he draws near.
[The Second Song of Isaiah (Is. 55:6-11)Book of Common Prayer, p. 86-87]
Whenever I pray the first part, the first line, there’s an obvious thought that comes along with it – something that could be put in parentheses and added to every Book of Common Prayer:
Seek the Lord while he wills to be found (which is always, every minute of every day);*
That God wants to be found by us is a no-brainer: God seeks discovery, a parent hiding in plain sight, waiting for us to open our eyes. God is constant and never truly beyond our reach.
But God doesn’t force a relationship. Constancy is not the same thing as insistence. We have the right to walk away, walk past, turn and head in another direction. We can refuse to reach out. We can stay put, hanging back from God’s presence rather than taking steps toward. Perhaps feeling we aren’t worthy of God’s love, afraid to admit our imperfections, embarrassed by needing the deep love that only God offers, we might not have the wherewithal to seek.
That’s why the second part is so important. Even with God’s presence with and for us a sure thing, our presence with and for God isn’t. So we have to act, to respond. God isn’t asking for much, just the simple act of calling a name. When we don’t have the courage, strength, wisdom, or energy to get up and look, we just have to call out. When we can’t see God through the darkness, we just need to speak. Even the faintest of whispers will do – God has drawn near enough to hear.
[For the full canticle, click Lent 2021 above.]