This is the second in a 3-post series. Read the first one here.
We pick up this story at the part when my 8-yr-old Jesus-loving, encounter-seeking daughter allows the love and pursuit of the Father to overwhelm her fears and compel her to contend for her relationship with him.
And now that she had gotten over the “if he comes” question, she was excited. Expectant.
Then she asked, “Mom, when will he answer?”
Again, a familiar question. It’s usually the one that comes next for me, too. Okay, I’ll ask in faith…but when will he answer? How long will I have to wait?
So she and I continued our conversation for some time, talking about how there are awesome times when God immediately gives us what we are asking for, like when her sister Emma asked God for a rainbow and then looked up and saw a super full double rainbow right out the window. It’s always nice when that happens. More often than not, though, he waits. And sometimes he waits and waits and waits. And then it feels like we’re asking but our prayers are just hitting the ceiling. And then maybe it feels like he’s nowhere to be found, like he’s hiding from us. She, of course, was already familiar with these feelings and suspicions.
“But think about it, Ellie,” I said. “Why do you play hide and seek?”
“Because it’s fun,” she replied. “I like it when you search for me and find me!” (Sounds like a Bible verse we know, doesn’t it?)
I reminded her of how her brother, who is 4, loves to hide under the covers at night and how he laughs his sweet little belly laugh when I throw the covers off him and find him. I reminded her of how she and her brother and sister always run ahead on our walks to hide behind that bush that someone carved into the shape of a buffalo up the street. We talk about how fun that is for me and Dad, and how they always give themselves away by their sweet giggles because they can’t contain their delight at the thought of our heads popping around the corner and how they rush out from behind the buffalo bush full of hugs and laughs.
Kids don’t hide to stay hidden; they hide to be found.
“Do you think,” I asked Ellie, “that God might have made you to love being sought and found in order to show you something fabulous about himself? You are created in his image, right? Do you think he made you this way because this is what he is like, too?”
I think that God waits–to the point where he might even seem hidden–because he wants us to look for him. And not only that, he wants to be found! I think that the process of searching and finding and contending for what we want together with him leads the way to the fullness, the glory, the intimacy, the faith-building, the perseverance, the hope and the joy of being convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I know one thing, it’s that in my journey, the seeking, the asking, the waiting, the pursuing–and that fact he has always been found by me–is what has built the trust between me and him, increased the joy between us, and initiated a deeper connection and desire between us.
Paul so beautifully describes this very thing in Acts 17:
He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
He’s not far from you, and he put you exactly where you are so that you will look for him and find him.
Maybe we could change our minds. Maybe instead of allowing the time between seeking and finding to be an open door for fear, doubt, and all the “what if” questions we talked about in the last post, we could embrace the times of seeking, asking, and contending as a healthy and normal part of our worship and relationship with God. We could embrace it as a source of joy and an expression of our devotion. That would put us in good company with the writers of just a couple of my favorite verses about this:
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 1:6
How blessed are all those who long for Him. Isaiah 30:18
Hat tip to Bill Johnson’s book Dreaming with God, which discusses God waiting to be found in really compelling and inspiring ways. Go buy it.September 8, 2015