Do you want to be found?
It hardly needs to be said that finding God in daily life is one of the keynotes of Saint Josemaría’s spirituality. But do we ourselves want to be found by God in daily life?
This is more than an ironic question. Although “the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk 19:10), yet “his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11). Many of His contemporaries wished neither to be sought after nor found. The swineherds of Gerasa and the Samaritans who blocked the Lord’s journey to Jerusalem (Mk 5:17; Lk 9:53) are just two examples, and indeed the Lord warned His Apostles against the unwelcome of villages to their preaching (Lk 9:5). When God comes knocking, evasion, if not outright rejection, is always possible.
Our situation is different: we believe without seeing. We live in the visible absence of Christ, while walking by faith in His presence. How does He come to find us? And how might we sometimes try to avoid Him?
“Be convinced, my child, that God has a right to ask us: Are you thinking about me? Are you aware of me? Do you look to me as your support? Do you seek me as the Light of your life, as your shield…, as your all?” (The Forge, no. 506)
These are intrusive questions. But they are asked by the only One who has a right to their answers. And even more: God knows that He “intrudes” not into the perfect little world of a perfectly happy individual with no need for light, love, or peace. No, the Lord asks these pointed questions of people who, like ourselves, frequently forget Him, lean on our own abilities, and find other, far inferior ways of feeling content.
If these questions function like a crowbar to the soul, it is because for the Christian apostle, measurable outcomes are not where our self-evaluation stops. An avalanche of New Testament texts plainly tells us that our inner dispositions weigh heavier in the scales than whatever observable good we do.
For this reason, we don’t stop short at life’s events and circumstances, at our successes and failures, as being all there is to God’s providence. These things remain largely external to us. But do we allow the inner voice of conscience, God’s voice in our soul, to challenge and change our conduct? Are we attentive to that voice, which accompanies us everywhere?
St Josemaría calls it, simply, being recollected: “Recollection. Seek God within you and listen to him” (The Way, no. 319). Recollection is another way of saying “listening,” and this inner attentiveness to the Lord is a “sign of Christian maturity” (The Forge, no. 405). Being grown up in our spiritual life means that we are actively seeking to be found by God in daily life: By our efforts to listen, we say that we want to hear… so as to obey His voice in all things. It is really advertising, Samuel-like, that we want to be found by Him, that we are available to do His will (1 Sam 3:10).
Maintaining a quiet focus throughout the day makes work efficient. It helps us accomplish tasks in an orderly and discreet way, maximizing both time and energy, as we skirt dissipation and idleness by duty-bound concentration. But let’s not forget: interior, prayerful attentiveness is an open invitation for God to speak. And He may go beyond the black and white, the “good job” or “bad job,” to question our deeper motivations and attitudes: Why do you stake your self-esteem on your success? Why are you anxious about the outcome? Why do you treat those around you like machines?
But this does not mean that listening for the Lord is the same as submitting to a brutal interrogation. Probing into our thoughts and motives is not so much for establishing guilt as for grounding us in His love for us. That is, if I am making my work into a vehicle for self-esteem or self-worth, then I need to hear God’s voice reassuring me: I already love you. You are my beloved child. No amount of successful outcomes will satisfy you. I made you to be fulfilled by me alone. A life fully imbued with God’s love is a secure life, a life that has no need to divert work and responsibilities into any kind of self-promotion.
Recollecting these truths, we recognize that the One who seeks us out is seeking us in order to love us—to forgive us, and set us free from self. This is how He treats the one lost sheep, the prodigal son, the Samaritan woman, and you, and me. The passage of centuries has not changed His motives and methods.
Recollection goes beyond human efficiency into the realm of inspiration: We are no longer executing human tasks in a human way, but performing those same tasks in the presence of the One who loves us. And this is a sign of mature freedom in Christ—not hiding from His gaze, avoiding criticism, or laboring feverishly to produce gratifying fruits—but feeling and knowing that we are “under the loving gaze of God, all day long” (Friends of God, no. 307), we rejoice in being constantly in plain sight, ready to hear and act on His word.