The Danger of Settling for Answers (or why seekers fail to find satisfaction)

SeekerThis generation worships the seeker.

We elevate those on a spiritual quest, the perpetual walkabout traveler, the dreamer whose dreams lead to more dreams. We romanticize the restless wanderer willing to travel endlessly in search of ever-elusive answers. Like Jack Kerouac, we want a spirituality that lives on the road. We believe God is a hobo and think we’re more likely to encounter him in a freight car or under a bridge than in a building designed to house Him for an hour a week.

Oddly enough, while we love questions, we’re suspicious of answers. Answers look like spiritual SUV’s, designed for people who settle, not for those yearning to travel light. Maybe we haven’t found the right answers or maybe, if we never find the answers, we can always believe that we’ll like them when we do.

Churches have worked to become “seeker friendly.” At the heart of this effort is a love for those who have yet to choose to follow Jesus, a true desire to reflect God’s nature, and sincere submission to the theology of hospitality. And yet, too often, we botch things up once they’ve crossed the threshold. We stuff them with the spiritual equivalent of Mc-answers and nurse our frustration when no one ends up saved or satisfied.

Book publishing, too, has apparently fallen in love with the seeker. What better audience for endless books than those on a perpetual search for answers? This is a line sure to thrive. So, maybe it isn’t love so much as an attraction to a perpetual market that will continue to grow as long as the answers are always a carrot stick away and clouded with incense.

An article in Huffpost Religion says, “This fall, HarperOne, the San Francisco-based imprint of HarperCollins, launched HarperElixir, a line of books specifically targeting people who seek the answers to life’s big questions. ‘The audience is the modern seeker… people who are spiritual and magical and passionate and curious and they want to answer the call to go deeper,’ said Claudia Boutote, senior vice president and publisher of Harper Elixir.” *

That sounds cool, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to be people who are spiritual, magical, passionate, curious and answering the call to go deeper? Still, it begs the question of what a seeker becomes once the answers are found. What then, o curious heart? Is the journey over? What’s the name for what you are now?

Here’s what I think. Answers aren’t sufficient treasure for the yearning quest of the human heart. Not like we think they’ll be. Answers aren’t enough for anyone. They aren’t enough for me. When I’m asking spiritual questions, it feels as though answers are what I want, but then when I get them, I want more. Answers doesn’t scratch the itch that sparked the questions.

Turns out, the itch is our hard-wired desire for God. Questions are just sparkplugs in the engine that drives us toward Him or away. True answers come from God but they still aren’t the end of our journey. If we settle for answers, we stall and to stall is just one letter off from stale. He designed us to be on an endless journey but it’s one of exploration, not answer-seeking. Seek answers and that’s all you’ll find. Seek God and your soul will be set ablaze traversing the glorious mystery of the Almighty.

There is an ancient text I believe speaks to the nature of our generation. It was written by a wildly spiritual soul, Haggai, and is contained in one of sixty-six revered scrolls known as the Holy Bible. “Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:5-6

Too often, the seeker-friendly church effort fails because the church acts like a religious version of NASA. “Do you love the idea of exploring outerspace? Join NASA,” they say. “Oh, we don’t go there anymore but you can help curate the museum to our past efforts.” Hearing this, true space seekers march right out of NASA’s offices and sign up with fringe science billionaires making promises that they still intend to pursue space’s mysteries.

Likewise, when seekers arrive at church with their passionate, churning, magic-seeking curiosity and are handed a can full of answers from people who have long since lost their sense of wonder at an awesome God, it’s no curiosity that they head to the local bookstore for the latest release from Harper Elixir.

The remedy is that none of us settle for answers but we all continue seeking to go ever deeper with God. Abraham didn’t spend his lifetime exploring answers; He spent it exploring the mystery of the El Shaddai who called him away from everything he knew to follow Him.

Of course, there are answers. There are absolutes. There are sound doctrines and acceptable life practices that align us with God. Those sixty-six ancient texts are God-breathed and we do well to study them every day. And Jesus, Jesus is the answer but He’s not an answer that kills our search. He is an answer that opens a doorway to an endless exploration of an infinite mystery – our relationship with an eternal Creator God.

No one should settle for a religion that looks like a soccer mom’s SUV loaded with pre-packaged answers to stale questions. Like chips, your soul can munch on these forever and remain famished.

stained-glass-1148892_640God led Abraham away from everything he knew and took him to a land inhabited by violent tribes. He told Abraham this land would be his inheritance – this famine-ridden land full of hostile men with evil practices. So, sure, that was an answer for Abraham, “here’s your land,” but the answer contained a mystery that kept him leaning into God. Then, God brought him out under the vast, starry night and promised the old man he would have a son of his own though his wife was long past childbearing years. This was an answer that also contained a mystery that kept Abraham leaning into God.

We weren’t designed to be satisfied with answers. We were designed to only find satisfaction in our creator, to explore His endless mystery forever like a universe of galaxies and stars beyond our imagining.

Have you lost your sense of wonder? Have you missed the adventure of Jesus Christ? Perhaps you’ve settled for answers and that’s what’s causing that stale, hollow feeling in your soul. Seeking only answers leads to a thousand experiences that all leave you feeling as if you’ve been there before.

Seeking Jesus leads you ever deeper into the wondrous mystery of God where there are colors, angles, and aspects of love only the soul seeking Jesus can see. Do you really love the seeker? Don’t give her answers. Show her, by your life, the adventure of seeking Him. Lead her to Jesus and she’ll begin a quest of eternal satisfaction.

**If you’re following along with my wild goose chase, you’ll find the notes on week two’s Bible readings by clicking HERE.

*Antonia Blumberg, How Seeker Spirituality Is Shaping The World Of Publishing, 12/28/2015, The Huffington Post, Huffpost Religion.

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1 Comment

    The Conversation

  1. Carla says:

    Love it, Lori! I have read the Bible through dozens of times during my life and YET I find something new, fresh, amazing each time I read it. And with every reading, I am going through something different than the last time I read it. It’s like those paintings where the eyes appear as though they are following you. The Spirit has hidden all the answers for every situation.

    I thought I was satisfied with my walk, it was a good walk, Abba and I were on a good path—UNTIL Paul’s retelling of his vision or dream about the 3rd Heaven. Huh? What happened to #s 1 and 2? Is there a 4th and 5th? I was hooked. There is no ‘arrival’ in Jesus, only the continuing journey. But as we grow and learn, we are taken higher and higher. I WANT to see that 3rd Heaven, and if there is a 4th or 5th, I wanna see that, too.

    People were hard-wired with inquisitive minds, and I think that was the plan. Never be satisfied. Never sit back on your laurels. Don’t pull down your old barns, build new ones, then say ‘my soul is satisfied’. I don’t EVER wanna hear Abba call me a fool! Some things we have to take on faith. Some things were hidden so we could share the wonder of discovery. God knows our minds and hearts, and gives us everything we need to make the journey exciting.

    Thanks again, Lori! God bless