Remember bookmarkers? Back in the day when Hallmark shops had a carousel with tasseled words of wisdom? As a child, I was mesmerized by them. What profound truths would jump out at me? I only have a small collection because it was a rare treat to be able to buy one. Nowadays, if anyone actually reads a physical book, they may use sticky tabs, random scraps of paper, or maybe even a crumpled Kleenex as a bookmark.
One day during my teen years, my dad happened to give me one of those tasseled bookmarkers. I was ecstatic! It said, “Live to seek God and life will not be without God.” Leo Tolstoy (tears) My father was not especially religious as far as I could tell, but it was one of the best presents he ever gave me. It was during the time when I was entertaining the thought of becoming a nun. I took it as a sign of encouragement, but maybe he was only trying to get out of paying for a daughter’s wedding, as was the custom back then, as well as one of his looming worries.
Live to seek God and life will not be without God, are good words that are just as applicable today as back then. As I ponder these words with the actual bookmark before me, it echoes the words found in scripture, “When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me…” (Jer. 29:13) We should never stop seeking God, but how often do we think about God seeking us, His beloved?
God continually calls us to Himself if we are sensitive enough to hear His voice. “Know that the Lord is God, He made us, we belong to Him.” (Psalm 100:3) Then there is the parable of the one lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7). Also, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house…” (Revelation 3:20) However, God is a gentleman and it is we who have to let Him in. The God of the universe shows us time and again that He actually wants a relationship with us because we are the creatures He made. We are His works of art.
God obviously and purposefully chooses people for various tasks and reasons. We see this throughout the Bible. Jesus chose the twelve disciples and they weren’t the most perfect guys on the planet, and one even turned out to be a traitor. Why would Jesus choose a traitor if He knew the future? I guess it goes back to free will and human weakness. Some choose money— the dark side, the devil and all his empty promises and lies. We never know what is in God’s plan. Jesus would also ask people if they were willing to give up everything to follow Him and sadly, many said no, so we do have to reciprocate. It’s a two-way street.
If Christ seeks us out and chooses us, does that make some of us more special or favored than others? What happens to everyone else? Isn’t God’s love for everyone? I finally began reading the book, Story of a Soul, The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux that has been collecting dust in my house for years. I am only as far as the first chapter, but she muses about some of the same things I do. She writes, “I wondered for a long time why God has preferences, why all souls don’t receive an equal amount of graces. I was surprised when I saw Him shower His extraordinary favors on saints who had offended Him, for instance, St. Paul and St. Augustine…….” “I wondered why poor savages died in great numbers without even having heard the name of God pronounced.” So what about those “savages” St. Therese speaks of? Did God really forget about them?
I think it comes down to being open to hearing God’s call and then seeking Him in return. It’s a sort of dance, a weaving back and forth between us seeking God, our creator, and Him desiring us. Like a bride and bridegroom. Christ refers to the church as His bride in the Bible. Another great saint, Teresa of Avila says, “Christ does not force our will, He takes only what we give him. But He does not give Himself entirely until He sees that we yield ourselves entirely to Him.” That’s quite a challenge!
Sometimes I also wonder if maybe God “edits” His work, like when we write or create art or music. Usually we edit for the purpose of making improvements. Obviously we all need growth and improvement. History has shown God often chooses the most unlikely characters to do his work, so being perfect or the best is not a prerequisite. “Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong…..so that no human being might boast before God.” (I Corin. 1:26-29) This should make us feel a bit better and less like we have to compete with the saints of old. God will mold all of us into something more beautiful over time and for His glory if we let Him. We are all saints in our own way.
I think St. Therese of Lisieux sums it up beautifully, “Just as the sun shines down simultaneously on the tall cedars and on each little flower as though it were alone on the earth, so Our Lord is occupied particularly with each soul as though there were no others like it.” We are all special in His sight if we heed the voice of our Beloved.
I am humbled and deeply grateful that I have heard God’s voice and consider myself among God’s chosen ones, even if I don’t always live up to His call. Let us seek God and be sensitive to when He is knocking at the door of our heart and say a resounding “yes” to Him as He pursues us. Even if no earthly person cared for us, our Creator and the Lover of our Soul will always be there, waiting for us and welcoming us to Himself. Live to seek God and your life will not be without God!
(All this from a bookmarker, truly they do impart words of wisdom!)