"One! ... Two! ... Three! ..." Remember being it and pressing your forehead against the toad-skinned tree trunk, your body swaying impatiently back and forth while your dirty little fingers found loose bark to send prematurely to the ground? Remember hearing the scurrying in the yard and trying to memorize the location of the footsteps? And remember the urge to peek as you counted loudly . . . emphatically . . .

   "Four! . . . Five! . . ."

   Hide-and-seek is actually a very old game. The first man and woman on this planet hid from God — and they even made Him do the counting. How silly to hide from a God who sees everything. What a pointless game. But He played the game anyway and He continues to play with us — except that since that first game He's usually the One who hides. Once in a while we do get a glimpse of Him, but even when that happens, He always seems to beat us back to the tree. Then when we get our chance to hide, He always finds us. "How come I'm always the one who has to be it? ". . . Six! . . . Seven! . . ."

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   That's exactly the attitude people have had throughout history in this cosmic game of hide-and-seek. In fact, they've often tried to stop the game by making images of God and announcing that they'd found Him, when all along the only thing they had was their own warped idea of what He was like.

   Looking back, we also see that the game is hardly fair. Just think of all the places God has had to hide. There was the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. There was the smoky fire at the peak of Mount Sinai, then the little golden box with wings on it. He hid in there for some time until they lost the box, and then He hid in the words and cries of prophets.

   Finally, He fooled everyone and hid in a human body. Having donned this disguise, He acted on the strategy of speaking the truth in strange stories, answering questions with questions, and taking on the form of a lowly servant. They heard His voice, they saw Him do things only God could do, they looked Him right in the eye — but they still didn't find Him.

   And when they'd had enough of the game, they crucified Him; they pounded nails through His hands and feet. He wouldn't hide from them again. Then, just in case, they sealed His dead body in a tomb. There. Game over. That would do it. No more hide-and-seek. But He made His greatest move of all.

   He rose from the dead, broke out of the tomb, and so the game is still on!

   "Eight! . . ."

   That's the important thing. Finding Him never means that the game is over. It's impossible to have God within our grasp, for He cannot be fully understood, described, outlined, appreciated, measured, categorized, or wrapped up. So the game continues even after we think we've found Him — and, unfortunately, we're still it.

   "Nine! . . ."

   But that's all a part of the fun and the frustration of the game. The dirty palms, the fast breathing, the heart pounding so loudly we fear that it will give us away . . .

   "Nine and a half! . . . "

   There will always be those who, like the idolaters of old, try to create an image of God they can call on whenever they need something like a heaven-bound errand boy, someone to whom their dubious requests can be tossed. Maybe He becomes the

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president of their fan club: the ultimate ombudsman. He might be merely the greatest person they know — or know of — but He won't be God.

And there will always be writers of sermons and songs who tell us that God has been found and that we can go here or there to get whatever we need. But instead of finding God, they actually do away with Him. Reducing the Infinite, the Omniscient, and the Omnipotent to something we finite creatures can easily comprehend divests Him of His very nature. As soon as God is contained in a pat definition, He is easy to dismiss.

   A wise old hide-and-seeker once said, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings" (Proverbs 25:2). Writers of sermons and songs who claim to tell everything there is to know about God are actually taking away His glory. They're also robbing their audience of the chance to seek — and robbing people of the search is robbing them of their chance to be kings.

   Besides, seeking and finding, hiding and being found are all part of the challenge for those who are truly in the game.

   "Nine and three quarters! . . . Ten! Ready or not, here I come!"

Chapter 52  ||  Table of Contents