Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below.
SEARCHING, IN ONE FORM OR ANOTHER, IS A COMMON CHARACTERISTIC OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS. Neither the world around us nor we ourselves possess the perfection we long for. So we search. But what are the things we should be searching for most of all?
Greater understanding. It is truth that opens the door to progress, and so we spend a great deal of our time in this world trying to get better information about the situations we deal with. Few of us aspire to being philosophers, but at the practical level, that’s what we all are. We want to know, to understand, and to discern. By our very nature, we are seekers and learners. And if properly pursued, the lifelong search for understanding doesn’t doom us to dissatisfaction. As Pascal said, “Nothing gives rest but the sincere search for truth.”
Greater goals. Many things we should be content with, but our present state of accomplishment is not one of them. As long as life lasts, there is good work yet to be done, and the moment we give up searching for greater goals, we die. The nature of the work we do certainly changes over time, and one of the frustrating things about old age is the infirmity that makes even simple things harder to do. But we dare not quit searching for our next opportunity to serve others.
Greater character. Here is the main thing we should keep searching for. It is not the inadequacy of our understanding or our goals that holds us back; it is the fact that our inner selves are still immature. There are gaps in our character development that desperately need to be filled, and even more important, there are sinful habits we need to repent of. So no matter where we are — at the beginning of life, in the middle, or near the end — a character more nearly conformed to our Creator is what we should be searching for.
In the end, however, our deepest searchings are prompted by our longing for relationship. As personal beings, we yearn to relate perfectly and joyfully to other personal beings, and above all to God. All our searchings are pointing us toward this, the greatest discovery.
“At last you are no longer searching for yourself, but for another — you are saved” (Jean Giraudoux).