The one game that seems to follow each generation is ‘hide and go seek’. It was fun when I was a kid because there were more places to hide, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself being ‘it’ because I’m too easy to find. The rules can change, but the point of the game usually stays the same- be the best hider, and don’t get found.
It’s funny how from a young age we have it ingrained in us to be good at hiding. I remember times when I would get in trouble with my parents and I’d hide in a closet for hours, knowing that soon I’d be punished. Hiding for hours seemed better than facing my mistakes. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself doing the same thing, except instead of hiding from my earthly parents I hide from my heavenly Father.
A story that has continued to come up in my reading has been reminding me of the concept of hiding. Usually in the game of hide and seek, there’s a hider, and there’s a seeker. If the seeker can’t find the person hiding, they simply call for them, and they show themselves. It seems like the first game of hide and seek started way before we knew it did. Adam and Eve messed up pretty big, and from there the first game of hide and seek was born.
Genesis 3:8-9 says, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””
I noticed a few things here. First, in many versions, the “sound” they hear is actually God calling to them. Second, the fact that they were hiding shows that they were full of shame and guilt- something they didn’t experience before this. Third, when God asks “Where are you”, it implies that He already knew that they had been hiding from Him.
We aren’t much different. It takes years of practice and diligence to actually commit our short-comings before the Lord. For the rest of us, we make one bad choice after another, and find ourselves deeper and deeper into this game of hiding from God. Sin has a way of making us feel less ashamed of our sin and more ashamed of ourselves. At this point it’s easier to turn away, and that’s a real temptation when the weight of our guilt becomes too heavy.
As the New Year approached, it seemed that this last year was pretty tough for ALOT of people, myself included. However it was funny to me because instead of finding ways to improve, people seem to want to bury 2016, almost like the new year covers up the old. Sometimes that works, but most of the time our past comes back up. If we hide from it, we forfeit the freedom that comes from surrendering it.
There was a moment when I was hiding from the kids that I felt the Lord whisper, “I still see you”. It wasn’t in a creepy way of course, but more in a way that spoke to the depths of me- the ones full of all the guilt and shame I thought I’d been hiding. Like children, when we know we messed up, our first instinct is to hide. We think that we can hide behind superficial things like our job or school, and eventually He will leave us alone. Here’s the thing- He will never leave us alone. This isn’t because He really wants to find us so that we can be punished, it’s because He want’s to be near to us, and sin keeps us from that.
As we always find when we have to face our mistakes, there are consequences for our actions. But the Lord didn’t leave them alone in that pain. He takes them from their naked shame and clothes them. He finds them when they are troubled, takes care of their needs, and protects them. Even when they mess up, He bears their burden, not just here, but for generations to come. Many times people look at this verse and see all the consequences that came from their mistakes, however it’s actually the first time we as God’s people truly get to live in the freedom of His mercy.
That’s why new years and fresh starts are so exciting- we get to let go of our past because the burden has been lifted. Jesus is alive and presents us blameless before the throne. We don’t have to hide- we get to be found in the arms of our Savior who reminds us how precious we are to Him, scars and all. Follow the whisper calling you out of darkness, and enjoy the freedom of the New Year, because our guilt is gone and we have been called righteous, and that’s something to celebrate!