“For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek Me and live; But do not seek Bethel, Nor enter Gilgal, Nor pass over to Beersheba; For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, And Bethel shall come to nothing.
Seek the Lord and live, Lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph
And devour it, With no one to quench it in Bethel…”
– Amos 5.4-6
I went through the Old Testament book of Amos in my reflections this morning, and came across this verse. Striking to me was that simple line: “Seek the Lord and live!”
Three months ago, well before this crisis broke out, I made the decision to continue on in Manila. I had prayed about the decision, and I felt convicted by God to stay here first, and not to move just yet. So I took this job I’m in now, and I am committed to this company, by my own sense of honor, for the long-term.
In the past few weeks, I have been troubled by thoughts about my future that I had thought settled with my conviction to stay. With the increasing economic and political turmoil in this country, I’ve found myself asking: Why am I still staying here in the Philippines? I have the resources, I have the know-how, and I have the cash to make a break for the USA; some of my friends are already flourishing there; and opportunities are open there for me to earn more. Why didn’t I jump for it? Why don’t I jump for it now? Could I have mistaken God’s plan for me? Could this conviction to stay be wrong?
This verse I just read in Amos has restored a balance of peace to my heart. Like the wayward children of Israel to whom Amos spoke, I have been seeking the way to my future fulfillment in other places: not literally in Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba, or even in the USA; but I have been thinking of seeking a better location, with better circumstances, abroad from where I am now.
But the point is not to seek better circumstances in a better location. The point is to seek God. If, at any time, I begin to look to worldly things for provision and prosperity, then I have failed to acknowledge that these are the Lord’s to give and take away, and that regardless of where I am, He is the cause of my quality of life, whatever that may be. And if it is his will for me to stay, as I have made certain through careful prayer, then my place is to trust in him.
“Seek Me and live.” It sounds more like a threat in context, and much of Amos foretells vengeance for Israel. But shining through it is a loving God who says: “Seek the Lord. Seek not more profitable places and greater material prosperity, because these are but dust; but seek God, because He is life.”
And that goes hand in hand with Luke 6.33.
(Not to say, of course, that my friends over there in the USA are wrong to be there. That’s their place, and I’m glad for them. But for me, God has told me to stay, and stay I shall. For how long? Well, there are plans. We’ll see what else the Lord has in store.)