Holy Hide and Seek

Holy Hide and Seek

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

Remember when you were a kid, and you would play hide and seek? Maybe you have small people in your house and you are in the midst of those years. “Mommy, let’s play hide and seek!” So someone dutifully covers their eyes (usually the Mommy) and counts to ten and everyone else scatters to hide. Frequently, the kids hide in plain sight, peeking out from behind some curtains, or feet sticking out from behind the couch. In my house, I sometimes took a very long time to count to ten. Sometimes even long enough to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee and flick through a magazine.

There are many variations of this game: Ghosts in the Graveyard, Fugitive, Murderer, Assassin (why do these variants get more gruesome as kids age?). What is it about these hiding and finding games that are so appealing to children? If you are at all like me, you know why they are appealing to the mommy.

Part of it is the unknown. There is a little buzz when you open a cupboard door and are surprised to find someone in it. The thrill of discovery overcomes the trepidation of being scared by what is behind the curtain.

Isn’t it the same with God? Throughout Scripture we find reference to seeking. So many passages speak of seeking God with all your heart, and he will be found.

It’s the ultimate Hide and Seek game. But here is the catch. God isn’t hidden. He’s there in plain sight. This holy hide and seek is more like Marco Polo or Blind Man’s Bluff maybe – one in which the seeker can’t see and the sought-after is right there in front of you.

So why do we even need to seek God? If he is right there all the time, why can’t everyone see him?

In the garden, there was no need to seek God. He walked and talked and hung out with Adam and Eve. They frolicked happily around the grounds. Have you ever watched a two year old after their bath? There is no fear or shame, they sprint around the house naked as a jaybird, laughing their heads off while we pursue them. Until my niece was about five, whenever we were at the cabin she would contentedly strip down to her birthday suit to swim. Sometimes her only item of clothing all day would be her life jacket. I loved seeing those little white buns peeking out.

Then came the apple-eating incident. And the first game of hide and seek. Only it wasn’t so fun. There was no giggling in a cupboard desiring to be found. Adam and Eve hightailed it behind some bushes and tried to cover up their nakedness. In the cool of the day, God came walking in the garden and when they heard him they hid. He called, and when he got no answer, he went seeking. Because God is God, the game didn’t last long. Adam answers “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid…so I hid.”

This game happens in many homes today as well. How often has one of your spawn done something they don’t particularly want you to know about, and they hide? They either hide the broken object, or when they really don’t want to get in trouble, themselves. Isn’t it amazing that the human spirit reacts the same way today, millennia later, that the first folks did. We hide. We hide our sin, our shame, our brokenness. We don’t want anyone to find out what we really are, so we cover up.

God asks Adam and Eve, with what I imagine to be sorrow in his voice, “What have you done?” Then a lot of finger pointing begins. “Well, she…” “It was HIS fault…” The first game of hide and seek does not end well.

The game then turns. Once out of the garden, we became the seekers. We create a divide with God and this separation from him, caused by our sin, makes us feel like he is hiding. Really, aren’t we just seeking playing freely in the garden? Isn’t what was lost what our souls yearn for? But it isn’t the garden we are after. It is relationship with God. We blew it with our stupid version of hide and seek, and now we want it back.

God creates a new version of hide and seek for us. Over and over in Scripture he tells us that if we seek him, we will find him. “Hey guys… come look! Come find me. I’m right here…” And we sit on the couch and count to a bazillion and flick the pages of a cheap tabloid. God is eager for us to find him. Jesus tells a few parables about this: the pearl of great value, the woman who loses a coin.

If you seek him, he will be found 1 Chronicles 28:9

And those who seek me find me Proverbs 8:17

Seek the Lord while he may be found Isaiah 55:6

For it is time to seek the Lord Hosea 10:12

Seek me and live Amos 5:4

He who seeks, finds Matthew 7:8

He rewards those who earnestly seek him Hebrews 11:6

My kids, now teenagers, play a version of this game called Sardines. In this variant, one person hides – preferably in a relatively roomy space – and as the seekers find the hider, one by one, they crawl in with him or her and join the hiding until every last seeker has found what is hidden.

Isn’t this a little bit like seeking God? What he really wants is for all of us to be made right with him. So he hides in plain sight – feet sticking out from behind the couch, or the closet door left ajar. He wants us to crawl, one by one, in with him – back into the garden – to frolic unashamed with the Game-maker. To giggle with him until the others find us.

We are given games like hide and seek so that we learn the greatest Hide and Seek, one that is not a game but a pursuit of the Holy and the Creator.

Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Psalm 105:3-4






The Rapids and the Reservoir

With joy

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” John 7:37

Jesus tells us that he is the Living Water.  He invites us to come, drink deeply, let our thirst be quenched.  It is a continual process.  Just as we can only go about three days without water, so being disconnected from the source of Living Water will dehydrate our souls. The Living Water needs to flow through us.

But what about those of us who aren’t disconnected from that Source, yet aren’t riding the river?

I do the “right” things.  I read my Bible. I pray. I attend a life-giving church. I talk God-stuff with my Christian friends.

But I live upstream from a dam.  And sometimes I compare my dam to the free-flowing river and wonder if I’m doing it wrong.

Have I taken all of that Living Water, meant to be free-flowing, and turned it into a lake for my own pleasure? A place where I can swim or water-ski or sit with some friends on a party-barge and have a glass of wine? Or is that another way God uses his Living Water?

I know that dams serve a purpose.  They can be used to create energy, to provide recreational lakes, to conserve and control water flow.

Was the Living Water ever meant to be dammed?  I don’t know.  Any time you try to dam the Living Water it will still find a way to overflow the banks and spill out onto the land around it.  It never goes to waste.  Perhaps it’s reach is not as far as it could be? But perhaps it’s reach is deeper than it would otherwise be.  Because that is what happens when a river is dammed.  It creates a deep reservoir.

I’ll be honest.  Evangelism scares me.  Reaching out and telling others about my faith does not come easily.  It is not one of my spiritual gifts. But that doesn’t mean I can use that as an excuse.  Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.  He doesn’t say: Hey you three over there, and you couple over there, and Sue and John and Amos, Go make disciples.” He is implying, nay, outright commanding all of us to do it.

How that looks will be different for each of us.  For some people I have a feeling it looks a lot more like rushing rapids.  God uses some to careen down the canyon, catching people’s attention, pulling them into the raft.  Rescuing them. He’s not asking them to be comfortable. They have a mission and he’s using them in splashy and exciting ways.

But for the rest of us, maybe God uses the serene reservoir. By damming up a river, a deep pool is created.  A pool that is calm, that creates a somewhat safe place where folks can relax and be in relationship with each other.  A place where we can be refreshed.

Isn’t that also a form of evangelism?  It may not feel like we are accomplishing much.  Those of us who have built reservoirs will probably never save thousands of people at a big revival event, but it’s not us doing the saving anyway.  It’s Jesus.  It’s the water.

Living Water is not meant to be contained, rather to flow freely.  But dams are also built to help control the flow of water, to help prevent an overwhelming flood downstream.  By letting out as much as the surrounding landscape can handle, it brings life to the landscape.

So here is the dilemma.  What is enough? I must be cautious of trying to selfishly keep the water to myself, to hoard it for my own future use, of creating a stagnant pool. Uff da.  I need to be careful here. The reservoir is meant to be shared.

There is a very fine line between stopping the flow, and letting the flow be controlled.  The control of water is actually managed by a different kind of structure called a floodgate.  While I may choose to build a dam, the Holy Spirit is in charge of the floodgates.  Maybe if I let the Spirit build the dam, instead of me, with floodgates installed, the reservoir becomes useful.

Another thing those reservoirs are used for is to fish. Jesus likes a good fishing story.  After animal husbandry (sheep), fish are one of the more common metaphors used in the Gospels.  Jesus hung out with fishermen.  His BFFs were fishermen.  Sometimes they had a good night fishing, and sometimes they came up with nothing.  Until Jesus, a carpenter for Pete’s sake, tells them where to throw their nets, and then the catch is monumental.

Fish need moving water, or they need to move in the water, to survive.  Even in a dammed up reservoir, the water moves. It’s when it doesn’t move at all that things die.

So water flows in.  A dam is built, but with floodgates.  A reservoir is formed.  And the water keeps moving.

Some are told to get in the raft and ride the rapids.  And some of us are told to ride the pontoon.  The point is that the water is being used.  That it is touching the lives of the people who are desperate for it.  It laps up on the shores, and it sweeps things away.  One is not better than the other. Just different.

Jesus promises us that if we come, if we drink deeply, he will turn us into conduits of Living Water.  His life-giving force will flow through us and bring blessing and growth in the world around us. We need to leave him in charge of the floodgates, and allow the water to move.