If I had to think of one thing I could say most people do with great zeal and fire, I would have to pick the act of seeking and searching. We all look for things all the time. We look for things we’ve misplaced, things we need, things we want, we look for people, places, things. We look for friendship; we look for love. We seek out all sorts of relationships–platonic, romantic, professional. We search for the trivial and the highly critical.

What fascinates me most is how far we stretch ourselves and our limits as we go on conducting our searches. I have been known to turn my entire room upside down in search of a book because a single phrase from it popped up in my mind and I had to read it again. Important educational tasks have been put on hold because I misplaced the pen I was using. Sure I could use another pen, but I really wanted the one I started using to finish my work.

A good friend of mine who I met as a freshman in college had this mini-prayer/ ritual she always repeated as she looked for things she couldn’t find. I remember walking into her room one day and seeing her rummaging around through things while saying, “St. Anthony, St. Anthony find me my earrings.” I asked her why she was saying this and she explained to me that St. Anthony in the Catholic Church happens to be the patron saint of lost things and that she was taught this mini-prayer by a family friend. My good friend also happens to be Jewish and very much devoted to her faith.

Perhaps the most frustrating given about searching for things happens to be the fact that the things we look for the hardest and expend the most time and energy searching for were really right in front of us all along. My lost book is almost always sitting on my desk, but I’ll only give it a quick glance before I start to rummage for it under my bed and accuse my brother of taking it or moving it. (My brother hates reading and would never take any of my books.) My mother will suggest that I check my desk carefully, but I will tell her that I already checked there and continue along my warpath only to find her holding the book over my head half an hour later. When I ask her where she found it, she just smiles and shakes her head at me and points to my desk. The pen I am desperately seeking was most likely left in the book I was working with and my friend’s earrings were in her jewelry box all along.

It is even more frustrating and sad when these things happen on a grander scale in life. Earlier this week I was sitting at a table at Starbucks just simply doing my work when two friends came and sat down at a table beside me. They were talking fairly loudly so bits and pieces of their conversation filtered through my headphones. One was confiding in the other about the feelings she had for a guy, but she was too scared to say anything to him and he was too busy looking for someone he could love and who would love him back to notice. Her friend’s response was what truly hit me. All she could say to her was, “He’ll never find anyone who can love him as much as you can.” And so he, like most of us, seemed to be off frantically searching for the thing that was right in front of him.

Why all this difficulty when it comes to searching for what we need and want? After all the Lord did say, “Ask, and it will be give to you; seek, and will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

Yes, we must seek. That is the only way we will find anything we want or need, but we must also remember that just as He told us to seek so we can find He also said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).

What we seek must be prioritized. Before all else we must seek Him. Before we desire to see anything else, we must desire to see His face. He sheds the light we need to see and find everything else we may need or want. He illuminates the path before us so that we may reach those friends, that school, that job, the right person, or simply that lost pen or those lost earrings.

The psalmist said it far more eloquently than I: “…But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” (Psalm 34:10)