Does Your Search History Know You?
I was sure that I’d been hacked. There was no way that could have appeared on my Facebook page…and consequently on several hundred other people’s news feeds. But somehow, through the all-knowing Google Search which connected to an unknowingly employed Yahoo Reader App, which connected to my social life on a webpage a.k.a. Facebook, the entire scope of my acquaintances could see that I had been searching for the best (a-hem) undergarments for women of my (a-hem) proportions. The only thing that hacked my Facebook was my own stupidity.
Plus, all those ads on the side of your Facebook page? They’re tailored to fit your interests, tastes, and even whatever search terms you have Googled. Why? Because sites like Facebook testify to a truth that even an unbelieving world already knows:
We are known by what we’re searching for.
What We’re Searching For Reveals our Disposition
It might sound like a word out of a Jane Austen novel, but “disposition” refers to an inclination or a tendency. Scripture directly links whether or not our hearts are inclined toward God to our obedience. “But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward” (Jer. 7:24, also check out Josh. 24:23 and 1 Kgs. 8:57-58). The Psalmist prayed, “Incline my heart to your testimonies…” (Ps. 119:36) What is your disposition toward the heart of God? Does obedience seem like a burden or do you find joy in living a life set-apart for Christ? (1 Jn. 5:3, 1 Pet. 3:15)
The true disposition of our hearts is whatever we have inclined them towards.
So how do we cultivate a disposition that is inclined toward and seeks after God? We start by pursuing spiritual disciplines like prayer, studying the Word, fasting, confession and being in Christian community with other believers. If you’re looking for a helpful kick-start on how to develop a lifestyle that’s inclined toward God, check out Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster and focus on two disciplines each month. You’ll be amazed at how your disposition toward the things of God will increase!
What We’re Searching For Reveals Our Desires
Scripture tells us that we ultimately follow after whatever we desire (2 Pt 3:3, Jude 1:16) We’re told to walk by the Spirit so that we won’t gratify the desires of the flesh, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Gal. 5:16-17).
We search for the things that our hearts desire, and those desires inevitably determine our deeds. Be careful not to get these switched around! We can’t change our inner desires with our outward deeds. It’s actually the other way around. We won’t overcome those bad habits, destructive patterns and besetting sins until we’ve been given new desires (Ez. 36:26, Phil. 2:13)
And when our disposition is inclined toward God, our desires begin to reflect His. (Ps. 37:4).
What is the desire of your heart today? Have you been longing for something that seems destined to remain unfulfilled? What have you been searching for that your good and loving Father would have you let go of and trust to His care? Psalm 145 promises that “He fulfills the desire of those who fear him.” (v. 19) Will you trust that He satisfies the desire of every living thing – including you? (v 16). Until our desires are rooted in and ruled by Christ, we’ll always be searching for that next thing.
What We’re Searching For Reveals Our Direction
It’s impossible to arrive at a destination without first going in its direction. Psalm 119 shows the connection between what you are searching for and your life’s aim. “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!…When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies.” (vv. 2-3, 59)
Have you stopped to consider where your life is aiming? I don’t mean big decisions like a job or an education or a spouse, as life-changing as those decisions are. If you zoomed out on your life to see what you are searching for, where are you headed? Are you headed for the snare that accompanies the approval-loving fear of man? (Prov. 29:25) Is your aim set for the ruin and destruction awaiting those that desire wealth? (1 Tim. 6:9) Are you targeting the harm and corruption that comes with foolish and ungodly company? (Prov. 13:20, 1 Cor. 15:33) Or, are you searching for the life that is gained by daily taking up your cross to follow Christ? (Lk. 9:23:24)
When our disposition and our desires are pursuing God’s presence, our direction will follow His.
He promises: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Ps. 32:8) Psalm 105:4 tells us to “Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” Are you aiming for God’s presence where you’ll find “fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11), or are you searching for an empty substitute? If you’re wondering which direction you’re life is going, just take a step back to see what you’ve been searching for.
What We’re Searching For – Can Change!
So what do we do when our dispositions, desires and directions need to be re-focused? Our restoration begins with a change in what we’re searching for. “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Is. 55:6-7)
The incredible promise of the gospel is that no matter how far off course we’ve gotten, we can incline our hearts to the Lord because He first inclined His heart to us (Eph. 2:1-10). God tells us to seek Him because He wants us to find Him. “I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’” (Is. 45:19) Deuteronomy 4:29 promises that if you seek the Lord you will find Him, “if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
He is still the Rewarder of those who seek Him. (Heb. 11:6) He is still the Generous Father who gives to those who ask Him. (Matt. 7:7-11)
So the next time you go to “Google it,” or see a column of interest-specific Facebook ads, or perhaps have one of your top-ten most embarrassing moments posted for all to see, let it remind you of this one aim-altering truth – you are known by what you search for.
“Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God.”
1 Chronicles 22:19