When Hide and Seek Becomes Here I am
Ready or not, here I come!”
I always loved hearing those words because that’s when the fun really began. I knew all the best hiding places around our house. In the stairwell, behind the bushes, between the pine trees, by the swing set… What made them good was this: you could see the seeker, but they couldn’t see you. You had to hold your breath as they came near so you didn’t give yourself away, and then as soon as they went past, you sprinted for home base. “Safe!” you hollered when you got there.
Recently I heard a different take on this game. The author of a devotional piece shared that as a little boy, he always won at hide and seek. His hiding places were so good that no one ever found him. Some years later he realized that the reason he was never found was because no one looked for him. “It’s easy to hide when no one is seeking you,” he wrote.
How devastated that young man must have been. It was obvious that even now as a grown man, the memory of those days still deflated him. But he took comfort in the story told of a Biblical version of hide and seek:
(Adam and Eve) “heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” ~ Genesis 3:8-9
I wonder what hiding felt like to Adam and Eve. Did they hold their breath hoping God would pass? Did they hope God would find the other first, so they could save themselves and sprint to safety? Did they consider giving themselves up in hopes God would go easy on them? Maybe just play it dumb and pretend nothing happened? All good until your fig leaf completely gives you away.
I guess we humans have always been pretty fond of hiding. We find some clever ways to disguise our indiscretions and downplay our inadequacies, hoping God will move along without taking a discriminating look. The irony is, God has no reason at all to come looking for us (Psalm 139) and yet He does anyway. Not because he doesn’t know where to find us but because we all have something to hide. He knows that once it’s out in the open, the game can change.
I remember playing hide and seek with my young children who, back then, weren’t so good at hiding. I knew all their usual hiding places, and even if I couldn’t see them, I would hear them. They would nearly always give themselves away with the muffled snickers. I would pretend not to see them, of course, because that’s the fun of the game.
“Now where can she be?” I wondered, just loudly enough for my daughter, who is mostly wedged under the bed except for the two sneakers sticking out, to hear. The sneakers wiggle as she chortles.
“Hmmm. Is she here?” I say, looking under her desk. “Nope. Maybe here?” I try, opening the closet doors wide and with much fanfare. “Nooo,” I say with a melodramatic sigh of resignation and defeat. “Where could she possibly be hiding?”
Of course by now she can’t contain herself. “Here I am, Mommy!” she shouts, as she bursts out from hiding. Then she runs and throws both arms around me to give me a big hug. “Mommy, you were so close, but you didn’t see me!” Of course I would never tell her that I knew where she was hiding the whole time. That would ruin the game. Her favorite part is the ‘Here I Am, Mommy!’
I am grateful to know that God is a seeking God, and that He comes looking for me, even when he knows exactly where I am hiding and exactly what I have to hide. If I listen carefully I can probably hear Him bashing around a bit in the underbrush to give me fair warning. If God loves me the way I love my children, then his favorite part is probably the “Here I am” hug, too.
Then, of course, I am standing there in my fig leaf.
Thanks to Christ, God is okay with that, too.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139: 23-24