Posted: 7/1/15 at 9:35pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
As children we would play a game called “Hide and Seek.” The seeker would close their eyes and begin counting out loud to a predetermined number. The rest of the kids would run away looking for great hiding places. Then the seeker would begin searching for the hidden players. It was usually always a challenge for the seeker, and generally great fun for those in hiding!
Now that I am an adult and serve in leadership roles, I have a different view of the ‘Hide and Seek’ game, because I encounter so many people who are still playing ‘Hide and Seek’ in many areas of their lives. Some hide from significant relationships by not being involved, or by being evasive or deceptive in those relationships.
Some hide from anything that will intrude on their personal agendas or inconvenience them in any way. Spiritually, many know that God has asked them to participate with Him and with a local church to impact the whole world that is attempting to hide from God.
The concept of people trying to hide from God is as old as humanity. In the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve disobeyed what God had asked them to do, what did they do next? They attempted to hide so they wouldn’t have to face God, who knew what they had done.
This is not unlike what we as children would do upon coming home from school and finding freshly baked chocolate chip cookies cooling on the countertop. Next to the cookies was a large note specifically telling us to not eat the cookies until after dinner. And what did we do? We ate some cookies while they were fresh baked and the chocolate was still warm and soft. Then we would hide outside in the neighborhood, or in our room. We hid because we did not want to face up to what we had done.
In the story of the prophet Jonah, we find another presentation of someone trying to hide from encountering God. God asked Jonah to go to a foreign land to be His representative and voice to the people who lived in Nineveh.
In Jonah 1:2–3 (ESV): “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.”
God spoke to Jonah, and asked Him to go to Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria, and explain to them that they were living very destructively and that God wanted them to turn away from their destructiveness and seek God. Jonah did not want to go.
Instead of making arrangements to go to Nineveh on behalf of God, Jonah bought passage on a ship heading as far away as possible from the place and thing that God had asked him to do. He bought a ticket to go to Tarshish, which was on the western coast of Spain, and about two thousand miles away from where God wanted Jonah to go.
Jonah is found hiding in the lower sections of a ship, trying to flee “from the presence of the Lord.” That phrase is mentioned twice in verse 3. Like the game “Hide and Seek,” we try to flee the seeker’s presence, and hide so that the seeker can’t find us. But where can we hide from God? Is there anywhere where we can get away from God’s presence? God is omnipresent.
In Psalm 139:7-12, the question is asked: “Where can I flee from the presence and reality of God?” The answer is “nowhere.” If one flees across the universe, or to the heights of heaven, God is there. If one goes to the afterlife and shadowy realm of death, God is there. If one goes as far as you can go to the east or west, God is there. If one tries to hide in the dark, God is there also, for the darkness is as bright as day to the perception of God. God is present in every sunrise, sunset, and every starry night.
Where can you hide from God? How are you trying to avoid God? Has God asked you to do something, but instead of doing it you have tried to run as far and hard as possible in the opposite direction? Is there some issue in your life that you are afraid to face, so you try to hide yourself from God? Some people try to hide from God by avoiding church attendance, or by avoiding Christians, or resisting any mention of the Bible.
But you can’t play ‘Hide and Seek’ with God. He knows where you are! Isn’t it time to choose to live responsibly with our loving and understanding God, instead of spending our lives trying to hide from Him?