Susan is baking some cookies for James because she is going to send him a care package for Thanksgiving as he will be in Texas for the fourth year in a row. I went to the local Foodtown today looking for some of the ingredients she needed to bake. One of the ingredients was vanilla extract so I went to the aisle and section that had the baking ingredients but couldn’t find any vanilla extract. I looked up and down, left and right and and did not see any vanilla extract. I walked all the way to the end of the aisle and back a few times and I couldn’t find it. There was almond paste, apricot filling, marzipan, sprinkles, pudding and so many other great things to bake with. But no vanilla extract. I am usually pretty good at finding the needle in the haystack and I take it as a personal challenge to find the hard to find. Maybe its a male thing but I don’t like asking for help when looking for something….kind of like men not stopping to ask for directions. I certainly wasn’t gong to go looking for someone to help but I did decide if a store worker came by I would ask where I could find the vanilla extract. Finally one of the women who worked in the store came down the aisle and I asked her where the vanilla extract was. She said: “Turn around, its on the other side of the aisle right in front of you.” My first reaction was: “When did they move the vanilla extract.” (It’s hard to admit I was looking in the wrong place).
No matter how long I looked or how thorough I looked for the the vanilla extract I was never going to find it in the place I was looking. Even if I concentrated really hard and went through every item on the shelves I was never going to find it. Even if I had great intentions and really meant it sincerely I was going to come up empty. The vanilla extract was not in the place I was looking.
How many times do we look for things that are not there? How many times do we expect things from people that they cannot give or try to find meaning and life in things that cannot fulfill us? Saint John writes in chapter one of his Gospel:
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.“ (John 1:4 -5 NKJV).
Jesus invites us to slow down to be with Him. He invites us to look for Him, seek Him and receive of Him. He invites us to walk in His footsteps, to stay close to His side and follow Him. In Him is life yet we often look for life and love in so many other things besides Him. We think that people can fill the emptiness or assuage the loneliness; We pour ourselves into work, study and play hoping to find meaning and purpose, to avoid and alleviate the pain. We think if we just had some more money then we would have real peace. We pound away the hours rushing through life, offering quick prayers before meals, singing worship songs in the car and reading a verse or two of Scripture on the go thinking somehow that will be enough to fill the thirst and hunger we are experiencing. We think we don’t have the time to sit at the feet of Jesus or engage His Word. (I think I heard that term somewhere before). In essence, we are looking for something that is not there and nothing but the love of Jesus will bring us what we are looking for. We were made for God and were made to be in union with Him. Jesus prayed that we would have the same relationship with Him that He had with the Father. A perfect one-ness. (John 17). We are looking for something that is not there …like the old song by Johnny Lee says: “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places.” Sometimes its just a mater of turning around and you will find Jesus right in front of you. Like vanilla extract.
What do you think? How does it make you feel?