Hide and Seek Faith
I grew up on one of those now classic suburban neighborhoods of post-war track homes, full of kids. It was a winding street of poplar and oak trees developed in the very early 1950s. Young couples rushed to these houses, with many of them having babies in the same years. We all grew up together. I knew who lived in almost every house, and which ones had kids and at what ages. The whole block was our playground--running through each other's yards without worry.
When we'd play hide and seek, the space to hide was pretty large. We'd run in every direction, with the one who was "it" having a daunting challenge ahead to find all the players. I had my favorite places to hide, of course. One of them was behind the bushes in the front yard of one of the houses. I still remember the day I realized the core truth that every dedicated hide and seek player realizes at some point. Lying in my perfect spot, the spot from which I was hardly ever found, and from which I could emerge when the coast was clear and make it to the home base without being caught. There I was on that one day when I began thinking about the game itself. How do I really know there's anybody out there looking for me at all? How do I know that all the other players haven't either been caught or made it home and decided they were done and so had already left for other adventures? What if I just stayed where I was and didn't move at all? Would anyone ever find me? What is this dialectic (okay, I didn't use the word "dialectic") that I was experiencing between being right in the midst of life and being totally separated from life? Alone or known? Forgotten or cared about? Free or bound? You can put it in the language of a 9 year old or a 39 year old; it's the same question. Can we hide so well that we're never found--physically, emotionally, psychologically, politically, theologically? How far can we really go?
I guess that's why hide and seek is such a great game. It is a teacher of life.
Psalm 139 asks that hide and seek question of God: "How far can I go to escape your Spirit?" And the answer is there's no distance we can go. We can try, for sure. We can run from each other. We can run from the church. We can run from ourselves in some ways. Or we can move slowly, but over time find ourselves so far away that it feels like we've hidden without wanting to--forgetting so much of what we knew. But the neighborhood of our spirit is still known to God's Spirit--and we can be found. This is what faith teaches. We can be found. And we can come home--even if home feels new.
Hid and sought. Free because found. God with us in the bushes as well the familiar streets. Just need to look up and out and beyond where we are sometimes, and know we've been in the home zone all the while. It's harder for some of us than others, but--by God's faithfulness--it's possible for each of us.
"Olly, olly, all come free!"