I still haven't found what I'm looking for

The license plate on the back of my car says nothing about who I am. Two letters, four numbers and that's it.

For others, license plates are meant to convey identity, social status, whimsical fancy or a love of dogs. Some extol the virtues of Blah Blah University's football team or the driver's propensity for lead-footedness ... I saw one recently that said, simply, "IGOFAST." I presume the driver wasn't talking about skipping his next meal.

(Some favorites? "1MPG" [on a Hummer]; PMS 247; "NOSUP4U" [for all the "Seinfeld" fans]; "EMCSQRD"; "HANSOLO"; "OBX ASAP")

The most baffling, recently, was this one: "E DRAVEN." Don't know what it means?

It's a character from the 1990s cult fave "The Crow." It's also one of the most bizarre -- and disturbing -- license plates I've seen.

Oh, no, not because of the movie. Sure, it's dark, violent, profane ... in short, "The Crow" earns its R rating. What bothers me so much about that license plate is what it represents: yet another person seeking fulfillment in a place where it can never be found.

Think I'm overstating it a bit? Maybe. Maybe it's just that someone really, really likes that movie. But look at the cars around you some time. More than just status symbols -- that concept is nothing new; people have been idolizing their cars since the first Model T rolled off the line -- cars these days convey messages about who we are.

There are trucks with "In Memory Of ..." decals in the back window, moving monuments to the dead. You'll rarely find a car without a bumper sticker. I have them, too. Vanity plates aren't the end of it ... most cars have decorative plates on the front of the car, too. Graduation tassels and/or flowery leis hang from rearview mirrors. All of these things, at the very least, are meant to illustrate a person's individuality. On a deeper level, they are totems.

A week or so ago, I posted this piece of scripture:

"Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.'"

This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,' says the LORD. 'You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?' declares the LORD Almighty. 'Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.'" (Haggai 1:5-9)

Ever read that passage? I hadn't until recently. Then, the very day I read it, I saw that "E DRAVEN" license plate and instantly thought of how so many people in this world are searching for something ... and they don't even know what it is.

They look in a bottle, filled with a temporary strength and courage that only leaves them weak and fearful. They look in the arms of a stranger, giving themselves away again and again in search of something that will put a smile on their face but instead leaves them empty. They look in pills and needles and smoke which, for a time, wraps them in warmth yet leaves them bitterly cold. They look in academic achievement, their families, clubs, groups, bands, games, cars and, yes, even movies. They all result in the same thing: plants that don't produce harvest, houses that God does not honor. Haggai, some 500 years before the birth of Christ, nailed it on the head.

A preacher once gave a sermon in which he used a wooden figure as a prop. In the center of that wooden man was a perfectly round hole, and he illustrated this point very simply and powerfully. He'd try to put in pieces of paper --representing diplomas -- but they didn't fill it completely. He'd try a Matchbox car, and it wouldn't fit at all. One by one, each thing he tried only left that void as empty as the moment it was cut out of the wooden figure. St. Augustine said it best when he referred to "a God-shaped void." We all have it, and nothing can fill it except, well, God.

Our world is hurting, and inherent in that pain is the search that all humans undertake. For some its an active search. Some think they've found it. Others know they have. What do you know? Late at night, when you're alone, where do you hurt? Is it painful because your search for truth isn't going anywhere? Come to Jesus.

U2's Bono sings, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Indeed.

(Oh, by the way, did you figure out that license plate at the top of the post? When you figure it out, it will hit you "right between the eyes.")

copyright andrew j. beckner, 2007. all rights under copyright reserved worldwide. for reprinting information, e-mail to Ephesians514@gmail.com