By Sherye S. Green
Hide and Seek is a favorite game of childhood. Remember what adventure it was to scramble to hide behind a bush or in a garden thicket as you anxiously waited for the countdown to end and the chase to commence. Minutes ticked off like hours as you silently held your breath in your seemingly covert location. Once the seeker came into view, the game turned into a mental chess match between the one searching and the ones being sought. The goal of the game was to make it safely back to base before being tagged by the friend who was “it.” If you were caught, then you became the one that all your other friends hid from.
The Lord and I have played many rounds of Hide and Seek in the years I’ve walked with Him. More often than not, I was the seeker, and He was the one I was desperately trying to locate. My methods of detection varied. Sometimes I tried to find Him in the pages of the newest Christian self-help book. Other times I sought Him as I shifted my burdens onto the waiting shoulders of a trusted friend. Yet in other rounds of this time-honored game, I would get huffy within my spirit and stomp off to try to solve a life problem all on my own when it seemed He was nowhere in sight.
How many times I must have raced right past Him. I tried to make finding Him so much more complicated than it needed to be. All I had to do was stop running and simply call out His name. Unlike children hiding in a backyard game who never would answer when their name was called, Jesus is always there and answers every time without fail.
The Lord’s been teaching me a new version of the Hide and Seek game I played as a little girl. It’s called Hiding Yourself Away, but instead of trying to conceal my whereabouts from the One who created me and loves me more than any other, it involves seeking shelter in the Lord and using that special time as a way to prepare myself to step out once again into the world around me. The presence of the Lord is as real a place as my favorite chair in my den.
The book of Psalms contains many descriptive terms for God’s hiding place such as strong tower, fortress, refuge, rock, and stronghold. Psalm 27:4-5 provides an apt picture of this garden spot the Lord provides for each of us, “I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: to live with Him in His house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate His beauty; I’ll study at His feet. That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.” This sheltered, fragrant retreat is available at any minute of the day.
A daily glance in the mirror is all I need to remind myself that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. What is of greater concern to me, however, are the not-so-positive changes that may be occurring within my heart. An atrophy of my spirit, as you will. Just as I want my body to remain limber and well-toned in these middle years, even more so I want my spirit to remain flexible and pliable. One of the attributes of a lithe spirit is wisdom, the ability to use godly knowledge to make right choices.
Proverbs 27:12 provides noteworthy advice for dodging the potholes of this midlife season: “A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them. The simpleton never looks and suffers the consequences.” As the Lord reveals to me more about this practice of hiding myself away in Him, I am discovering that seeking harbor in Him does not mean that I retreat from this world in which I live, but rather that I must be discerning in the way I think, in the way I spend my time, and in the way I relate to others around me. Time well spent with the Lord provides such guidance.
There is a motor always running inside of me. For the most part, I am a woman accustomed to action and seldom take much time to slow down. Too often the game I’d prefer to play is Capture the Flag. What I’m discovering in this mid-season is that hiding myself away in Him and slowing down to hear what He has to say is a more preferable agenda than scratching through items on my daily to-do list.
When I tuck myself away in the security and peacefulness of God’s hiding place, He provides me with a new perspective on life. It’s in this quiet, secure location that He binds my wounds, polishes and refastens the buckles on my spiritual armor, and fills the well of my heart and spirit with energy and power necessary to reach out and impact this dark and dying world for Him.
If you find yourself caught up in the games of this world, try a new pastime—Hiding Yourself Away. You’ll love being found, but best of all, you’ll be a winner every time.
Sherye S. Green is a Jacksonian, a teacher at Hinds Community College, and a wife, mother, and grandmother. Sherye and her husband, Mark, are members of First Baptist Church Jackson. She is also the author of Abandon Not My Soul.