By Eugene C. Scott
There are times when I ache for God’s touch, God’s presence, God’s answers to my questions and hurts. I pray; I read; I worship; I ask; I wait. Then there are other times when I’m slogging through my daily routine and God jumps out from behind a can of beans in the grocery store.
I don’t get it!
One of my favorite games when my children were runts, was hide ‘n’ seek. I was usually it. Except I didn’t actually hide. I didn’t need to. Instead I sat on the floor with my head sticking above the arm of the couch I was hiding behind or I climbed under the covers of their beds and left my big hairy feet poking out. My kids searched and searched and finally squealed with delight when they found me. And oh how I loved being found. Then we rolled and laughed and tickled and gave kisses.
They shouted, “Again, Daddy, again!”
Sometimes, however, no matter how obvious I made myself, they failed to find me. Perhaps nap-time pulled covers over their eyes, or a pending trip to the zoo competed for their imaginations, or cookies called out from the jar, or a past correction from me caused fear. So, there I would sit with my head and toes, and now my bottom lip, protruding. “Come on, kids find me,” I’d call. No answer.
Is that how it is with God? Is God hiding in plain sight but something in us obscures our vision? Past experiences, searching for significance outside of God, busyness, self-doubt, the lights and sounds of daily life all cloud our vision.
It seems so. “If you seek God, he will be found” 1 Chronicles 28:9 tells us. God informs Isaiah, “[I can even be] found by those who do not seek me.”
Yet according to God’s perspective, “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:11) Why do we have so much trouble connecting with God?
Honestly I cannot say why one person sees God’s brush strokes in a sunset while another sees only polluted air particles refracting light. Maybe in this game of hide ‘n’ seek with God—though it is far too momentous to be left a game—we misunderstand that God is not hiding but us. God so desired to be found he encased himself in flesh.
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus said. Jesus Christ was “God with us.” What was the difference between Thomas who saw Jesus and cried, “My Lord and my God,” and others who saw Jesus perform miracles and called him “Beelzebub,” the devil? I believe the difference was that Thomas bared his soul while the others remained hidden in religiosity and self-importance.
Sometimes I am so self-deluded. I practice my religious disciplines while using them to hide from God. I pray not wanting answers; study not looking for direction; seek so as not to be found. Deep down I know an open nakedness to God is what is called for. Yet I’m afraid. “Where are you?” God asked Adam way back in the beginning. As if God did not know Adam was hiding naked behind a bush. God knows we are fearful and distracted and unsure and not perfect—that we are naked. Yet God loves us and seeks us and even allows us to continue to hide. I keep telling myself it’s safe to come completely out from behind the bush. I don’t know why I hesitate. I can hear God calling, “Ollie, ollie, oxen free!”