It’s my first day in Cebu City, Philippines.
I am loving every single thing about it (well, okay… not the food) and I am taking in all the sights.
My eyes scan every street corner and road.
The Jeepneys zoom in and out of traffic carelessly, the children play together in the plazas. Markets are busily buzzing like bees during their pollination season. Music billows into the streets from restaurants and cars. Filipino people stand on the sidewalks; they laugh and chat.
Everything is peaceful.
We are on our way to grab lunch at McDonald’s and most of us hadn’t eaten anything since leaving the International Terminal at Hartsfield about two days ago. Needless to say, we were all starving.
Upon arriving to the two story McDonald’s, the Filipino workers had laid out a spread of french fries and hamburgers across multiple tables.
We sat down to eat, thankful we were sitting down to an American meal, and waited for the Quest Team to arrive where they would greet us.
Side note: Thirteen years ago, Browns Bridge Church established a church in Cebu City, Philippines: Quest Fellowship. This occurred for many reasons, but I can say that this church has provided the Filipino people of Cebu with hope and joy beyond measure and during our trip, we partnered with Quest to serve the people of Cebu City and Bantayan Island. When the Quest Team arrived, everyone stood up to give hugs and introduce themselves. Everyone knew what was coming and I live to tell you that it was everything but normal. What the Quest Team had pulled together for us, I will never forget.
For about fifteen years a television show named “The Amazing Race” has aired. It’s a scavenger hunt show where individuals tour different countries in search for hidden objects and places. Quest made their own version of The Amazing Race for us, but Filipino style.
We ran around the city like a bunch of hooligans. With each challenge they gave us, we received a card. The card detailed our challenge and gave us directions to go. The picture in my post is an example of the cards we received and the directions we had to follow carefully. Once we reached that destination and completed the challenge at that destination, we would move on to a new location and complete another challenge.
Our challenges were some of the craziest things I ever done in my life. Things like: eating sardine ice cream, squeezing onto a Jeepney full of Filipinos, running through markets looking for traditional Filipino dresswear, and riding a horse drawn carriage through the most populated portion of the city. The things we searched for were even better and to make it all even more insane: this was a race. So, of course we were running through the city, sweating under the sun, and hoping sincerely that we would win.
I will spare you the wondering and tell you that we didn’t win; however, what I found that day was more than just silly little items. What I found was a truth and it’s a truth that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The truth is this: what worth would a scavenger hunt be if you did not actively search for the things you were tasked with to find?
I mean think about this. If we walked about the city aimlessly, we would not find what we were looking for, and our efforts would have been be fruitless. Without finding the first place and completing the first challenge, our team could not move on to the next one. We would have never found Fuente Circle or ran our laps around the track of Abellena Sports Complex.
So, I ask you: how can we expect to find what we are looking for if we are not actively awake and seeking for it daily? And furthermore, how can you expect to move on in the path God has marked for you if you don’t complete the challenge you currently have at hand?
If you ask me, I don’t think that’s feasible.
Recently, I have encountered quite a few people that feel as though God has abandoned them, served as the source of their life pain, or lead them too far down the wrong path. Some friends are angry at God because of college plans being unclear and some adults are angry because their desires aren’t apart of God’s plan. These struggles are alerting their views on God and it breaks my heart. I can agree that sometimes in life, you can feel this tension in your relationship with God, especially when you are stuck between seasons of your life or waiting for Him to give you direction. It becomes easy to question Him during these times and ask, “why would you let this happen to me?” But the people that have the most difficult time seeing God for who He truly is are those electing not to participate in the scavenger hunt.
They aren’t seeking daily and they aren’t actively looking.
And when you aren’t looking, how can you expect to find anything?
Matthew says it perfectly.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7 (NIV)
Seek and you will find.
Knock and the door will be opened.
Matthew is saying that you cannot expect God to give you the desires of your heart without asking for them by prayer or journaling or even having an open conversation with God. Matthew is saying that if you don't seek God on a daily basis, you were not going to have a steadfast and strong relationship with Him. And Matthew was saying that if you sit around and you don't knock on the doors that you want opened, they're never going to be open for you. We can't be stagnant.
This is crazy!
When God isn’t making moves towards you, make moves towards Him. He doesn’t have to be the one constantly moving.
Don’t be stagnant in your faith just because you feel as though He’s being stagnant in your life.
You guys, I feel there is so much to be learned from scavenger hunts. Sure, they are games, and life isn’t. But as I said, you can’t expect to find what you’re looking for if you aren’t even searching for it to begin with. These moments of searching in the Race helped me to see this clearly.
So, keep those eyes of yours open.
Be loud and stand strong in what you believe.
Don’t let the lies and the deceit of the Enemy make you believe that God has left you behind.
Don’t be stagnant.
Move. Move straight towards God and seek.
Seek His face always, because He promises that when you do you will win The Amazing Race that is life and find the joy you have been longing for.
Can you envision a season of green pastures, wandering by still, flowing waters, and feeling completely restored within your soul? While this sounds perfect, it does not just happen by chance. God says to encounter this place, we have to get quiet.
Do you ever feel like God is standing in your way and keeping you from your plans? Have you ever thought that maybe it isn’t actually God standing in your way, but something else entirely? There is a stone on the way up the mountain needing to be discovered.