Why Is God Hiding?

When my grandson Matthew was about two years old, he loved to play hide and seek with me. Hard-core fans of the game would have found something to be desired in his “hiding,” though.

Papa would count to ten and little Matthew would scurry off to hide behind his open bedroom door. Of course I knew where he was but I would pretend to search. (I may have peeked).

“Where’s Matthew?” I would call. “Where’s Matthew?”

And from behind the door I would hear a little voice giving me a hint. “Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!” And, wonder of wonders, I found him. Amazing, huh?

He would either run off giggling or I might snatch him into my arms for a hug. You see, when you’re two, the game of hide and seek has a different goal. Ten-year olds want to hide so well that you can’t find them.

For two-year olds, the goal is to be found. Hold that thought.

Hide And Seek With God?

The other morning I woke up and for some reason I felt the Lord was a bit distant from me. I know this is all subjective, but I asked myself, “Did I do something wrong? It must be me, the problem.”

As I read the Bible that morning a verse leaped out, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” (Isaiah 45:15, ESV).

“A God who hides himself?” That’s weird, I thought.

Then I remembered little Matthew hiding behind the door. He was hiding, but he wanted to be found. Now, I may be taking the verse out of context, (it won’t be the first time I’ve been guilty of that), but the principle is true.

Maybe the feeling of estrangement I felt from God that morning wasn’t that I had done something wrong or that God was upset with me. Maybe He was hiding so I would get up and go find Him.

When a fellow finds the love of his life, he seeks to be with her. If this lover quits seeking his beloved the relationship grows stale (a word from God for some of us?) The object of his love wants him to desire to be with her.

God is like that. He wants to be wanted.

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord…” (Jer. 29:12, 13, ESV)

Do you feel dry spiritually, separated from His presence? Stop and listen. You hear that voice? I think it’s God.

“Woo-hoo. Woo-hoo!”

The Blue Moon Humility Service

I’m thinking of starting a new business called the Blue Moon Humility Service. I’m going to teach people how to be humble. I haven’t decided if my teaching method will coaching, mentoring, or just swift kicks in seat of the pants.

To begin, I’ll need a colorful van with Blue Moon Humility Service emblazoned on the side, several thousand business cards and maybe a secretary or two. And television commercials. Gotta have commercials.

 Why Blue Moon? I just like the name.

Why humility? Scarcity. There’s a need. If I asked a room of one hundred people, “Who wants to be more humble?” do you think many would raise their hand? Most of us are like my pastor friend who declared, “I’m proud to be so humble.”

“Not to brag, but I’m humble enough,” we think (or at least, we’re as humble as we want to be).

But, when God’s promises to the humble rumble through my soul, my hand shoots up. I will confess that I may have a little way to go before my humble meter reads 100%.

What Is Humility, Really?

One problem is we don’t know what humility is. Even some dictionaries stumble in their definitions. The Oxford Languages Dictionary says humility is “a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.”

Can I partially disagree with that? I think Merriam-Webster gets closer.

“Freedom from pride or arrogance …”

Truth be told, we often think synonyms for humble are “wimpy, doormat, weak, and poor.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want to be any of those.

Let me humbly tell you what I think humility is. It’s having a correct opinion of God, of yourself, and those around you. We don’t say that we can’t when we know we can. It’s knowing that if God said to do it, we can, if we will. Without Him, we can do nothing.

It’s not an underestimation of one’s self. It’s a correct estimation.

Sometimes our feigned “humility” is just a mask for laziness (I don’t want to do it!), fear (I’m afraid to do it), or some other unsavory state of mind.

“We will also need to understand what Jesus meant when he called men and women to humble themselves. We discover that the Greek word Jesus and the apostles used, tapeinos, conveys the idea of having a right view of ourselves before God and others. If pride is an exalted sense of who we are in relation to God and others, humility is having a realistic sense of who we are before God and others. We must not think too highly (or too lowly) of ourselves. Rather, we must be honest and realistic about who and what we are.” Thomas A. Tarrants (https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/resources/pride-and-humility)

If this isn’t true, how in the world could Paul have proclaimed, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” C’mon Paul. All things? Yep. He knew who he was, and He knew who God was and what God had called him to do.

Numbers 12:2  says, “(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)” (NKJV) Many believe that Moses wrote the book of Numbers, so did he proclaim himself the most humble man on earth? He acknowledged the truth.

Paul claimed humility (Acts 20:19).

So, I feel safe in proclaiming my humility. I feel I’m about 65% humble. There is still a bit of work to do.

Is God humble?

And God! He’s the gold standard for humility. Jesus said it out loud, “…I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29b NLT) Jesus humbled himself, emptied himself. (Phil. 2:8) Jesus knew who He was, yet he was humble. 

What Do I Get If I’m Humble?

 We’ve stumbled on a treasure trove here. Something that many people don’t value turns out to be more valuable than Rhodium (worth $15,250/troy ounce as of July 2022)

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10).He will do you good after the humbling process in your life. “… that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.” (Deut. 8:16, Matthew 23:12).

We fling rocks at the fellow who sits on the rooftop and chirps his greatness. God honors those who stay in His will, small or great.

Exalted by God? That sounds good. But won’t I get proud? Nope, because when you’ve humbled yourself, you create a state of heart where God can bless you and you won’t puff up and blow up.

—God saves a humble people. (2 Samuel 22:28)

—Humbling oneself can mitigate punishment, even for a wicked person. (1 Kings 21:29. Also 2 Chronicles 12:12)

—Humbling ourselves opens heaven’s floodgates of forgiveness and healing. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

He leads the humble in what is right and teaches the humble His way. (Proverbs 11:2, Psalm 25:9)

God favors the humble. (Proverbs 3:34)

—God keeps His eye on the humble. (Isa. 66:2   )

—The humble girl receives God’s grace. “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” (James 4:6)

—Honor follows humility.  (Prov. 15:33, Prov. 18:12, Prov. 22:4)

Let God Top You Off

I’ve got a theory: when you look for a good breakfast restaurant, don’t consider the building’s exterior. No, you count the number of pickup trucks in the parking lot, then you go inside and see how many old fellows with big bellies and baseball caps are telling tall tales.

If there are a lot of both, chances are you’re on to something good.

Another feature of good breakfast places is friendly waitresses who talk loudly, call you “honey,” and keep your cup of coffee topped off. Empty coffee cups are a “no-no” in a good breakfast place.

I think the Lrd has a lot in common with a waitress in a good breakfast restaurant (though I have my doubts if he calls us “honey.”) I’ll tell you why.

God Tops Them Off

In Acts 4:31, we see the infant Church in a tough spot. God healed a lame man who started walking, leaping and praising God. It was a busy time at the temple, so a crowd ran together. I imagine that thousands of them had seen this man begging at one of the temple entrances over the years.

Now, wow! What had happened?

They started praising God. Most of them, anyway. Some felt this miracle put their leadership and their doctrines in an unpleasant light. Peter and John, God’s instruments of healing in this case, ended up facing some hostile religious bigwigs.

“By what power or by what name did you do this?” they said, figuring their position and power would intimidate these simple men. Peter and John had a secret weapon, though—God’s Spirit filled them. We saw it happen to them and many others in Acts 2 and here the power of the Spirit shows up in them just as when the lame man was healed.

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them …” (Acts 4:8, ESV)

They had been filled with the Spirit in Acts 2, but here God “topped it off” like our friendly waitress tops off my coffee cup and they boldly spoke the truth to the pompous leaders.

Their boldness alarmed the leadership council, and they warned them to be silent. They left with the threats of what would happen to them if they kept speaking of Jesus ringing in their ears.

You know how well that worked.

The Place Shakes

So, the two disciples hurried to the brothers and sisters and tell them what had happened. It’s one thing when you face a battle and you stand, topped off with the Holy Spirit. But now the adrenaline of the moment has worn off and the council’s threats stirred the whole church. They needed help.

Look at their prayer. (Acts. 4:24-29). I would have prayed for protection. Not them. They prayed for boldness, and more healings and signs from heaven to affirm that their message was true.

It’s logical, isn’t it? Winning armies don’t simply ask for places to hide. They go on the offensive. These “crazy” folks ask God to do the same things through them that had gotten them into trouble.

And God answered! The place shook, and the Spirit filled them anew. I don’t think the Lord just topped them off. He filled them to overflowing … again!

Topped Off And Overflowing With the Lord

Maybe that’s the problem with us today. God’s Spirit fills us, but instead of getting “topped off” when the enemy challenges us, we depend on our own devices. Christians hide in church. The ballot box promises to help us vote the baddies out. We cower. Or we do nothing and simply live for ourselves.

These Christians knelt together and asked for boldness. Persecuted people asked for God to keep showing up. They announced the Good News of Jesus’ salvation.

And God topped them off. The result of God’s filling is boldness to speak for Jesus. “Top us off, Lord, until we overflow! Please!”

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31, ESV)

Seek Him Shouting

We don’t to sport a face that makes people think the pastor baptized us in lemon juice when we seek the Lord.

Here’s a question: could the “normal” way of seeking the Lord for those who love Him be with thanksgiving, joy, and gladness?

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Ps. 105:3, ESV

Only to sit and think of God,

Oh, what joy it is!

To think the thought, to breathe the Name,

Earth has no higher bliss!

F.W. Faber

What if Psalm 100 were the basis of our relationship with God instead of the sourpuss attitudes we often live with?

Read Psalm 100 song and pay attention to the verbs that power us into God’s presence as we pray it:

“Make, serve, know, come, enter, give.”

Make a joyful noise to the Lord? If there’s one thing mamas don’t want their kids doing in church, it’s making noise! Here we’re commanded to make a joyful noise to the Lord as we go into His presence.

I suspect God likes it. Have you ever walked by a sports stadium when noise thunders to the skies and the stadium shakes? The home team scored!

Hey, the home team scored! Let’s celebrate! God is God. He made us and takes care of us. He’s good. His love and faithfulness never quit! (100:3, 5) His goodness and mercy pursue us like a couple of baying hounds nipping at the heels of their prey (Psalm 23:6).

Makes you want to make some cheerful noises when you realize that.

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing. (100:2) If one word could describe your relationship with God, what would it be? “Plodder? Smiler? Rejoicer? Dutiful? Or…?”

Lord, forgive me that gladness hasn’t always characterized me. I’m more of a plodder, a ‘do-my-duty’-er.

Sing, David, sing!

God is a singing God who loves beautiful melodies and happy hearts singing and expressing joy. And why not, sadness?

 Three Things We Need To Know (100:3)

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (100:3, ESV)

The Lord is God, not you, not me, not the government. The enemy isn’t God. God is God. He’s the Source of our existence, the Eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God. He is love, hope and so much more. I’m not God, but the One Who is, is on my side. He’s for me.

We are His, not our own. We don’t exist of ourselves. Humanism tries to take back ownership from God. It’s an old lie. Underlying its claims is the idea that we know what makes us happy and fulfilled better than our Maker. We scream for our rights. I’m not my own. My body belongs to God, along with my soul and spirit. That’s not slavery. That’s a committed relationship. Not only am I 100% His, He is 100% mine.

If I rebel, I don’t have the same relationship with Him. I’m a rebel instead of a son.

We’re His people. The sheep of his pasture. Those who don’t hang around sheep, are probably saying, “Ooooh, how sweet.” Yeah… Is there anything dumber or more helpless than a sheep? Smelly, good to eat and good for wool. That’s about it. That makes one of them a tiny bit more valuable than a chicken, huh?

But a good shepherd has a committed relationship with these sheep. They are incapable, but he is more than capable. He takes care of them. Be thankful. This universe is a tough place. We’re about as capable of taking care of ourselves and providing for ourselves as a sheep. Yet God looks after us and helps us.

Come into His presence thanking, praising and blessing His name. Eugene Peterson puts it like this:

“Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’

“Make yourselves at home, talking praise.

“Thank him. Worship him.”

(Ps. 100:4, The Message)

 Why are we thanking and praising Him?

God is good. He saved me and gave me a wonderful family. Health has been His gift to me as well.

 God loves me and cares about me. My life is important to Him. He loved me before I was born and He will love me forever.

 God has always been faithful to me. He’s done what He said He would do and never let me down. He is faithful. Faithful and True is His name!

 And there is a reward for seeking the Lord like this: “So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. And he gave them the lands of the nations…” (Ps. 105:43, 44 ESV)

 Claim the inheritance that God has given His people. Seek Him with joy. Obey Him and see His mighty hand in action for you.

______________

Hmmm …

What the wicked dread will overtake him: what the righteous desire will be granted. Proverbs 10:22

Are you a “dread-er” or are a “desire-er?” God I don’t want to dread, I want to desire.  When dread is larger than desire we are paralyzed and don’t move towards desire. We stop and what we’re afraid of catches up to us to devour us. When we move towards godly desire, dread can’t catch us.

My Life Drastically Changed

William Campbell

(William is a good missionary friend doing an excellent job in Paris.)

THIRTY YEARS AGO this week, my life drastically changed.

I was 22 years-old and going nowhere. Had already flunked out of college. Was working menial jobs here and there. Had dreams and ambitions, and a boatload of talent, but couldn’t get the boat out of harbor. Heck, I couldn’t even keep it afloat.

I was sinking. Fast.

The drugs and alcohol, which used to be such fun, didn’t satisfy anymore. No matter how much I did, and no matter the combinations. The womanizing, the broken relationships, the partying, all the consuming. It all left me empty, miserable, frustrated, and… tormented. I had no peace. It was hell on earth.

I was desperate.

Something inside of me started crying out. I needed help. Fast.

Anything that would give me peace. Drugs no longer worked, in fact, they made it worse. Sex, music, money, selfishness… nothing gave me peace.

Something inside of me cried out to God: “Whoever You are, wherever You are, please help me, please give me peace.”

I looked into different religions. Searching. Clawing my way through the muddy dark cave of my soul. Tormented. Desperate.

Sinking fast.

Finally, one night in early September, I snuck into my mom’s bedroom and grabbed her big ol’ Bible. The last thing I wanted, or needed, was religion. I needed peace. And love. And forgiveness.

Lots of doubts about Jesus coursed through my mind. I’d already kinda tried that stuff as a kid and as a teen. Nothing super serious, but I knew some of the basics. And yeah, the people I’d met at church back in the day were, in retrospect, actually really kind, warm, loving, and… peaceful. But sheesh, I wasn’t ready for no religious trip, man.

However, I couldn’t deny that light I’d seen in the eyes of my Sunday school teacher when I was about 8. That light was bright. It oozed love. And, peace.

So I plunged into that big, ol’ Bible. But I’d only read the Old Testament, the part written before the life of Jesus. I wanted to do my OWN research. Wanted to find out FOR MYSELF. No church, no religion, no words of men. Just trying to find this God who had showed up at the Red Sea and bailed out Charlton Heston in that movie.

So I read, and cried out to God. “Please help me.”

And I read, and cried out. And read, and read, and read. And cried.

And then… He came.

My eyes had fallen upon the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, a prophet writing around 700 BC. He described the future Messiah and how He would die for the sins of the people.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities,

the chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

and by His stripes we are healed.”

And then… He came.

Human language feels inadequate to explain what happened that moment.

It felt like a wave of love and peace washed over me such as I had never felt before.

Wave after wave of liquid love broke forth upon me and within me and in an instant I knew that Jesus was real. And that He LOVED ME. And that He had done all of that… FOR ME. And that somehow, someway, He was there in my room in Liddonfield Housing Project in early September 1992.

His love broke through upon me and I was born again.

It was… no, … HE was … overwhelming, and exhilarating, and enthralling, and kind. And peace. He was, and is, peace.

I wept and wept and wept. And I revelled in His love. And I gave Him all my heart, all my love, and all my life.

And in a moment, my life was completely changed.

From one day to the next I was completely different.

Not perfect.

Not always what I wanted to be.

And not always what I’m going to be.

But I sure wasn’t what I used to be.

And it was all because of Him. Because He IS love.

And since then – three decades ago – He has been undeniably faithful.

And so, so good.

I’ve never regretted for even one second surrendering all my heart and life to Him. Jesus. The Prince of Peace.

Thirty years ago this week, my life drastically changed.