I stood in the dark closet, pressed tightly against the back corner. Coats and boxes camouflaged my form, but I made myself as small as possible. The thump-thump-thump of feet came closer and closer. The door swung open and light flooded the darkness. Holding my breath and squeezing my eyes shut, I longed for my pursuer to vanish. The moments hung suspended in air until finally…finally the door shut. Steps quickly moved in a different direction away from me. I was safe.
I remained in my hiding place, a bit more relaxed, until a desperate, pleading cry reached my ears. “Mom, where are you? I give up!”
Hide and Seek. I’ve played that game more times than I can count, as a kid growing up and as a parent with my own kids. Even as a grown up, there were times I didn’t want to be found, but would only give up hiding when it became clear that my child’s emotional well-being was at stake. I can be good at hiding when I want to, and not just when playing the game. Sometimes I find myself hiding from the Lord.
It’s human nature to hide from the Lord. We may get angry when life get tough or when facing a painful turn of events. We may feel shame when we make decisions that disappoint ourselves and hurt others. And so we hide.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees (Genesis 3:8, NLT).
Like the first man and woman when they tasted sin and realized their nakedness, we hide from our Creator, the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. We cover up with the impressive garments we’ve fashioned ourselves, forgetting that our heavenly Father sees where we are and where we’ve been.
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you (Psalm 139:7, 11-12).
It is futile to hide from the Lord, and yet we try so very hard.
During an extended struggle with depression, I found myself hiding from the Lord. I kept occupied with the duties of raising young children and leading our small church. I prayed for others’ needs, but kept my own longings hidden away deep inside me. I hid beneath a thick mantle of faithfulness, going through the motions but not wanting to be seen.
One Saturday evening during service preparations, I knelt at a makeshift altar at the front of the sanctuary. As I expressed my troubles, I saw a picture of what I somehow knew to be my own heart. It was completely black, shriveled, and lifeless. I sensed the Lord’s gentle invitation, “You are infected with bitterness. Would you like me to take care this?”
Instantly I shrank back, ashamed that I had allowed myself to get into such a condition, and convinced that it would take too much time to be restored. “No, Lord! Not now.” Feeling hopeless and helpless, I hid behind the myriad tasks that characterized my life.
Two months later, I sat in my mom’s living room. The kids were still sleeping and I was soaking in the rare moments of silence. All of a sudden without any warning, I sensed the Lord’s gentle invitation again. “Are you ready now?” He had found me, and this time I knew I couldn’t hide. Tears streamed down my face, as I viewed mental picture after picture of offenses I had been harboring. I released each situation to the Lord, and could feel the bitterness being washed away. It stopped as suddenly as it had started. A holy sense of peace settled over me, and I felt clean and new inside. I looked at the clock, and was shocked to realize the entire glorious and powerful experience had lasted a mere 15 minutes!
Why had I hidden from the Lord for so long? I had allowed anger and bitterness and false assumptions to keep me from receiving what He lovingly had been offering. Tears flowed anew, as I thanked Him for seeking me with such patience.
This marvelous story happened over twenty years ago, but it is indelibly tattooed on my soul. It reminds me time and time again to be the seeker rather than a hider.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV).
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).
I love how Jason Chin, author of Love Says Go and my brother, describes the game of Hide and Seek with our Heavenly Father. Just like a parent hiding so his young child can purposefully find him, our Heavenly Father is hiding to be found. There is mutual delight when His children find Him.
We go through seasons where the Lord seems to have found a good hiding place. Sometimes He seems silent and far away. However, hiding from Him will never provide the peace we need. The Lord is the only One with the answers we need to move forward. When there are no answers to our questions, we have the blessed assurance that He is our good and loving Father.
The storms of life may threaten to overwhelm us, but we must seek the Lord until we experience His presence. We thrive when we no longer hide from Him, but rather seek Him with all our hearts.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always (1 Chronicles 16:11).
Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8a).
Heavenly Father, I confess that when life is hard, it is easy to hide from You. Reveal to me when I am hiding, and teach me to seek You always. Help me to trust that You are my good and loving Father. May I rest in You and know that it will be well. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.