“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
This startling quote from the great American poet Henry David Thoreau captures an insight into the challenge of our human lives. All too much of the time I find myself asleep to the true dignity and purpose of these years granted me by my Creator. And what’s worse, there are moments of clarity about this situation that terrify me.
Look at our Lesson today in John 1:35-52. We will only quote a section:
At that time, John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Here our Lord Jesus reveals how we are to embrace this victory over mortality by the situation that arises as two of John’s disciples start to follow Jesus. Our Lord noticed these men following Him and He turns and confronts them with the question that makes all the difference: “What do you seek?”.
If I am ever going to struggle in a healthy way over my purpose in life and my own fear of mortality, I have to struggle with that question, “What do you Seek?” Notice Jesus doesn’t ask them “Who do you seek?” No, He asks them a much deeper question, “What do you seek?” Stripping away all the delusions and self-satisfying and self-serving narcissism of my life, what do I seek? What do I really want? What is my purpose? These are the questions that have to be explored if I am ever going to know myself well enough to truly know who I am. And it is in the context of knowing Who God is that will reveal who I really am.
These disciples answered well! “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”. You won’t find answers to this fundamental question by yourself. You have to come, in humility, to the place where you honestly admit “I won’t learn about myself by myself. I have to go where He is to find myself.”
The Lord gives us the second half of our healthy and life-giving spiritual journey when He tells these men “Come and See.” No answers. No philosophy. No high minded “head in the clouds” concepts. Only the path of following in trust and hope. Be WITH Him and you’ll not only know Him, but yourself as well!
Today, what do you seek? Can you hear the Lord’s offer to “come and see” so you will know Him? After all, He is the image of God, and we are created in the image of God, so to know myself, I must know Him. On this Bright Wednesday, hear the words of the Faith that “Christ is risen” and know that it isn’t in following a philosophy or an idea or religious concepts that set the human heart at peace with our own mortality. It is in knowing Him and being with Him that answers the most fundamental question of the human heart. If I am ever to escape a life of “quiet desperation,” it will be by embracing my true purpose in life – following Him Who has destroyed death and granted the world eternal life, by being Orthodox on Purpose!