The story of God and the human race is a story of hide-and-seek. Yet this true-life story is not a game; it’s a story of life and death.
Human beings were not made to hide.
From the beginning, our great craving was to know and be known. With sin, this was lost. After the Fall, when God came to be with Adam and Eve, their response was fear and they hid. They hid because they were ashamed. They hid from God because they didn’t think He could love them if He knew what they really looked like – inside. If He knew what they’d done.
Hiddenness is always the first response to an awareness that we have sinned.
We hide from God in moments that stretch into decades. We hide through our rationalizations and denials. We hide despite the outstretched hands and welcoming embrace He offers us if we would only let Him. This has been the flight of the human race since the Garden.
Our hiding is not reserved for God alone either. We hide because we’re afraid that if the full truth about us is known we won’t be loved. But we also know that whatever is hidden cannot be loved. We can only be loved to the extent that we are known. I can only be fully loved if I am fully known.
When I hide parts of myself, I seek to convince another person I am better than I am. If I’m a good enough hider, I may get away with it. The other person may express affection and love for me. But I can’t deny the voice inside me: ‘Yes, but if you knew the truth about me, if you saw the hidden places, you would not love me. You love the person you think I am. You do not love the real me, for you do not know the real me.’
God’s reaction to Adam & Eve was amazing. His simple question was remarkably profound: “Adam, where are you?”
Why would an omniscient God ask that question? Did God not really know where Adam was? God certainly knew, but He allowed Adam to hide from Him. In gifting Adam with free will, God would not coerce him. Adam’s love needed to be freely offered from a willing heart. Like a parent playing hide-and-seek with a young child, God covered His eyes. He respected Adam’s desire to be ‘unknown.’
That’s where the story really begins. God didn’t just walk away – He came searching for them.
We often think that it’s up to us to find God. It’s true that He invites us to search for Him. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. But God is the one who first takes the initiative – God is the ultimate seeker.
The Hound of Heaven
“The Hound of Heaven,” is a poem written by Francis Thompson over 100 years ago. After living life as a destitute, opium addict on the streets of London, he was brought to a monastery where he found redemption. His marvelous poem is autobiographical, describing the way God relentlessly pursued him while he was utterly, completely lost… and was finally found.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears…
I hide and evade, but God is the one who seeks — unhurrying, unperturbed, refusing to stop — the hound of heaven.
The YouTube link below is a fantastic modern adaptation of the poem
produced by Emblem Media LLC.
Inspired by: Hide and Seek, by John Ortberg