Broken Yoke Ministries, Inc
I Will Be Found
By Bob Van Domelen
“13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”
When I was a boy, I had lots of dreams for my future because that’s what boys think about. Believe it or not, I didn’t ever dream of being a fireman or a policeman. What I wanted was to be a priest. That dream, however, was set aside for a number of reasons and as things turned out, a good thing even if it didn’t seem like it to me at the time. But the last thing I would ever have considered for my life would be that I would one day be arrested and sent to prison.
I rather doubt that any of you reading this from a prison cell decided at some point in your childhood “Yeah, I think I might want to end up in prison” or “I think I’d like to sexually assault someone.” I didn’t think that. Did you? Most likely not because those are not choices healthy people make.
Some years back I tried to come up with a diagram that described these thoughts and this is what it ended up being. The ‘trauma event’ could have happened at any point growing up and could also have been completely unrelated to behaviors that brought about my own arrest, but with time the path my life grew further away from what I had hoped it would be.
Many who write express the questions “Where was God in all this? Why didn’t He protect me better?” I can’t answer for them but I truly believe God was always present – I just had a hard time finding Him. And as I got older the gap between my journey of ‘arrested development’ and ‘normal growth’ never seemed to cross no matter how much I wanted to be on the right path. I could see it. I just couldn’t get there.
when you seek me with all your heart
As I shared above, God was always with me, even in the darkest of times when my choices became wedges in my desire to be His. “How could God ever love someone as sinful as me?” “Why doesn’t God just tie that millstone around my neck and be done with me? I certainly deserve that.”
Mine was a heart divided, though. The addictions I developed and craved kept it so. I used to think I was like the man Jesus invited to the banquet who responded “I will, Lord, but I have just purchased some oxen and I need to try them out. I’ll get back to you later.” The invitations the Lord offered me were right in front of me but I found ways to side step them in favor of something I thought might be better.
Other times, the addictions simply made seeking God with all my heart impossible. In my sane, temptation-free moments, I told God “It’s you I want above everything else.” But it was a pledge of words, words without staying power because in some perverse way, I still liked my sin. If that sounds strange, let me ask you this. If we hate our favorite sins, why do we continue to commit them? God might still be in our thoughts but our thoughts are divided and in that mindset we cannot seek with all our heart.
I will be found by you
After all of that, seeking God might seem like ‘Mission Impossible’ but I do believe ‘All things are possible with God.’ I am not suggesting that God waves a hand and all the issues that cloud our lives are wiped away but that God makes it possible for us to see Him despite the cloudy conditions.
I remember the first time I was ever in a plane, every time I looked out the window I could see the highway below and that made me wonder about the skill level of our pilot. But had we been above the clouds, the pilot would have been following instrument readings. He would have been trusting in what he could not see because he believed the instruments would tell him where he was. They would continue to point him in the right direction.
There are times when God seems absent because I want the ‘feeling’ that God is there. In those moments of anxiety, God’s word, the Bible, serves as my instrument readings. That is a truth I found while in prison and in finding that truth, I also found God in a more lasting and real relationship than I had ever had before.
back from captivity
Over the years more than a few have told me that God promised to bring them out of captivity. They told me of scheduled parole hearings that would result in their freedom and release from prison. When I think about it, I don’t recall any writing back to announce a parole board decision in their favor. If that did happen, they didn’t write to tell me. But then again, I didn’t hear from those whose request for a release was rejected either.
I do hear occasionally from those who write to say God had broken the chains of their captivity – He had blessed them with a vision of who they were in Him, not covered by the stain of their sins but as heirs to His kingdom, born of God’s image and likeness, passed through the darkness of sin and separation, and redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb for all eternity.
Prison is a consequence for stepping over acceptable boundaries of behavior, for bringing harm to someone who did not deserve to be harmed, and for protecting society from the behavior of someone unable to control behavior choices. Prison is not about forgiveness or reconciliation. Prison is, on paper at least, an environment created to contain those who qualify.
God is about forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption. God wants the whole of who we are so that what needs healing, can be healed; what gets in the way of our relationship with Him can be broken down; and what has been in darkness will no longer keep us there.
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24.7)