It Takes Work

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Lizzy and I just returned from a trip to Romania and Bulgaria. I've always wanted to see Eastern Europe and the former communist states that now have embraced free market economies and democratic ideals. They have come a long way since the communist regimes of Ceausescu and Zhivkov...The city of Bucharest is a wonderful mix of of medieval, neoclassical and art nouveau buildings, as well as 'neo-Romanian' buildings dating from the beginning of the 20th century and a collection of modern buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. Of course there are also the utilitarian Communist-era buildings that dominate parts of the city as well.  One thing that has not gone out of style in Romania and Bulgaria is Christianity.  I think that churchs in these countries, under persecution, became stronger and held fast to the faith even more than churches under no persecution.  Some of the most incredibly beautiful churches I've ever seen are in Romania and Bulgaria.  Under Ottoman rulers for centuries the churches survived and thrived despite the often harsh oppression exerted upon them.  As an example, Ottoman rulers decried that people were not allowed to build churches higher than a man on a horse.  To comply with this law churches were built low and resembled a small house or barn from the outside.  Inside they dug down so upon entering you see vaulted ceilings and an impressive narthex and naive.  One such church is the Church of the Nativity in Arbanasi, Bulgaria. It is truly beautiful on the inside with every inch of wall covered in a painting or icon.

I think that the early Christian churches in Eastern Europe really sought God and when they found him they fought to keep God in their lives despite the hardships they faced, much like the early Christians under the Roman Empire. Thomas Aquinas said “There is within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning.” Since the dawn of time, I think that it’s evident that mankind has pursued fulfillment of that thirst with everything imaginable. I think that even though consumerism has brought some rapid and constructive changes to Romania and Bulgaria there is still a hunger to seek and find God.

The people that I talked to in these countries know that relationships take some work.  I think that’s what God is talking about here in this verse.  I want you to really work at your relationship with me with everything you’ve got....with all your heart.  Not part or some of it, but all.

Gruss Gott from Bavaria, Germany,

Matt Schneider

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