The rules are simple – the hiders hide, and the seeker seeks. It may be the oldest game in existence. I loved to play it when I was young. Kids have been playing it for centuries.
But kids didn’t invent the game. It was invented by two adults long ago, in a garden. And it wasn’t a game, it was a response to catastrophic failure. With fruit juice staining their teeth, Adam and Eve realized that they had violated the one rule God had laid before them. So when they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden, they hid themselves among the trees (Genesis 3:8). And in a pattern that would continue throughout the centuries, their Creator became a Seeker.
God later called Abraham out of idolatry, and made from him a holy nation. He selected an outcast named Moses and gave him a job to do, turning a frightened, washed-up exile into the friend of God. He brought David from the flock to the palace, transforming him along the way into a man after God’s own heart. God took the initiative in each of these cases, and in dozens more. People didn’t look for Him, He looked for them.
As if that wasn’t enough, He came into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, coming as the Good Shepherd (John 10) to seek and to save those who were lost (Luke 19:10).
We are hiding. He is seeking. It’s been true since the beginning, and it is true today.
This matters – a lot! Because if we don’t get this right, we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back for having found Him. If we reverse these roles, we develop a twisted picture of a God who hides from us until we are smart enough or persistent enough to find Him and win the game. And if we win the game, then we get the credit.
But when we know that we are hiders who have been pursued by a loving, persistent God who refused to leave us alone, we are less likely to take credit for our salvation. We will be too busy reveling in the fact of being found! Our worship will be sweeter, our gratitude deeper, our praise free of any hint of pride. We avoid the trap of “look what I did,” and give ourselves completely to “look what He did!” It is exhilarating, as I re-discovered recently on a Sabbath hike near Malibu, to celebrate His dogged pursuit of me and revel in a salvation that had nothing – NOTHING! – to do with me. It led to a powerful time of grateful worship of the One who loved me even when I was hiding, who loved me enough to come looking for me. That blows my mind.
Two lost hikers made the news in Southern California last month – they were rescued just hours before they would have died. Motivated by their near-fatal experience (and sensitive to my wife, who worries about me), I ordered a Personal Locator Beacon that came in the mail this week. If I’m ever in trouble on a hike, I can activate this beacon and wait for help. It will lead rescuers to my location.
I hope I never need to use this device. But if I do, I guarantee that when the search-and-rescue team arrives to bring me to safety, I will NOT say “Oh, good, I found you.” It would be ridiculous to take credit for my own safety in that moment – they will get all the credit, as they should.
The searchers deserve the grateful thanks of those they find. And so does the Seeker. If He has found you, make sure He hears about your gratitude today.
Set aside “Look what I did,” and give yourself completely to “I’m amazed at what You did!”