Where is God when you need him? I know history is rife with troubled times but right now sure weighs heavy. In the U.S. depression, suicide, and and substance abuse are on the increase. One horrific event follows another. And no one agrees on solutions. Is God hiding, playing a cosmic game with us?
I feel it! Lately I’ve ached for God’s touch, presence, and answers to my questions and hurts. I pray, read, worship, and wait. Nothing. Silence. Or at least not the answer I desire. Yet there have been less volatile times when I’m slogging through my daily routine and God jumps out from behind a shadow and scares hell out of me.
Is God In Hiding and Playing a Cosmic Game?
One of my favorite games from 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 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!”
Or Do We Fail to See?
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.
Often what hides God from us is our desire for simple answers in the midst of a complex life. God cannot and will not fit into even our most beautifully crafted boxes.
God Can Be Found
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)
We Are the Hidden Ones
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 rather than God hiding it’s us.
After all, God so desired to be found he encased himself in flesh. Frederick Buechner wrote, “Once we have seen Him in a stable, we can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of men.” The Hungering Dark
“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. Poet and priest Malcolm Guite recently wrote, “July the 3rd is the Feast of St. Thomas the apostle. Sometimes known as ‘doubting’ Thomas, but maybe honest Thomas, courageous Thomas, even Tenacious Thomas would be nearer the mark! Guite went on saying Thomas had “courage to ask the awkward questions that drew from Jesus some of the most beautiful and profoundly comforting of all his sayings.”
Sometimes though 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.
Are you avoiding asking God awkward questions and truly listening for God’s voice.
God Is Seeking Us and not Playing a Game
“Where are you?” God asked Adam way back in the beginning. As if God did not know Adam was hiding naked behind a bush. We don’t hide behind anything so unsophisticated as a bush. We duck behind politics, false conundrums, traumatized anger, even church. 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. Is God hiding or like in that old game, is God calling, “Ollie, ollie, oxen free!”
Other posts to help us come out of hiding. A Sunday Psalm of Confession of our Goodness and Brokenness, Is Being Vulnerable a Powerful Trait?