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!”

Tapping Into God’s Power

I’ve always been a sucker for super heroes. The kid version of me used to wonder if I could invent a pill to make me strong like the flying cartoon hero, Mighty Mouse.

And Superman! You can have your Batmen, Spidermen, Aquamen, and the whole kit and caboodle. For my money, Superman was the man. To fly! To have muscles like that! To be the ultimate good guy. That’s who I wanted to be.

Of course, I knew the Super guy didn’t exist. And to be honest I get very nervous when I fly without an airplane, which I’ve done a few times in my dreams. When something seems too good to be true, there’s a little alarm that goes off inside me.

That’s why I do a double-take when I read things like, “…to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

More Than You Can Ask?

More than I can ask? Or IMAGINE! C’mon now. My imagination conjures up all kinds of wonderful things. And “according to his power that is at work within us,”? Now, I know that God dwells in me by His Spirit so theoretically His power should work in me.

But practically?

Paul wrote this verse. If God’s power worked for the apostle why did he spend so much time in prison? Why did he get beat up by his foes? If I was him, I would have pulled a Captain America and whapped them back to wherever they came from with my shield. Why did the apostle have periods when he was cold, hungry, or shipwrecked? Tradition says he was beheaded.

Hey Paul, your “imagination” must have been broken. Where’s that power?

He Was Powerful

Why doesn’t your mind’s eye picture a Mercedes camel, a Mediterranean villa, perfect health, and a long, happy life without a lot of complications? Isn’t that what God’s power and faith are about?

Truth is, Paul didn’t worry about the difference between a Toyota camel and a Mercedes camel. He just wanted to get there so he could preach.

He used his faith to change the world, not to pad his bank account.

The Encyclopedia Britannica asserts that Paul was, “…often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity.” We remember little of what the Roman emperors said. Paul is quoted millions of times each week! He planted assemblies that fueled early Church growth.

Healings and miracles marked his ministry. Something worked within him. It was the same presence and power of God which resides within each believer. Which brings up the question: Why isn’t this power of God working within me like that?

It is to some extent, but if you’re like me, you’d like to see more evidence of God using us and changing us. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this verse and those surrounding it to see if we can discover how Paul unleashed God’s power in his life.

Keys For God’s Action In You and Me

Ephesians 3:14-21 reveals how we can tap into the power of God’s Spirit living in us.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, (If you want God’s strength living and working within you, you must yield to His Lordship. He’s the Boss, not us. We pray with Jesus, “Your will be done, not mine).

15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (If you want to be strengthened with God’s power to meet every challenge in life, ask Him for it. Pray! Be constantly filled with His Spirit).

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Simple childlike faith opens the door to Jesus’ presence in your life).

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Root all your actions in the life-giving soil of love for God and love for others. Then you’ll have the power to see how incredibly vast Christ’s love is and all that God is will fill you. That doesn’t mean that you become God but it means that His character and His life infuse all that you are).

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us… (Realize God’s potential to act through us goes way beyond what we can even think. At times we’ll be surprised how God uses us).

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (When we realize the Source of that strength and potential, our heart overflows with praise for this powerful God who loves us so. Glorify Him with your lips, your heart, and the way you live your life. Keep on doing it from the moment you come to know Him all the way to and through eternity.

That sounds like a superhero story but turn off the alarms and simply strive by faith to let God work in and through you. You’ll be surprised at what happens. Expect something unexpected.

Image by diapicard from Pixabay

Hmmm …. “If the mailman stopped to kick every dog that barked at him, he’d never deliver the mail.” Roy Williams, recently retired University of North Carolina basketball coach. “Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.” Michael Hyatt’s friend

Growth Helps

Meeting God In “Thin Places” –I like to meet the Lord at a spot where I have memories. At the moment it’s the back deck of our house (it’s really the back porch but I said “deck” so that you younger readers would know what I’m talking about). Before I get my work day gets started, I love to sit out there. The quietness soothes me. Note, “quietness,” still includes birds singing and crickets cricketing. We’ve got a couple of Robins who think they own the place and we are their renters.” CLICK to read

Stop Communicating Like a Two-Year Old!–Have you ever noticed that when a little one is not happy he has ways of letting you know? He screams, turns red, throws a fit and keeps it up until everyone else around him is wondering why that woman was allowed to give birth (except we’re patient because we’ve all been there. It’s happened to us, too). Now unhappy adults communicate their emotions more subtly. They scream, turn red, and throw a fit. Some of them anyway. We’ve got our grown-up ways of throwing tantrums that are even more uncomfortable for others, don’t we? For instance: CLICK to read the rest of the story

Talking Heads–Mama had a look that she shot at me when I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to. It was guaranteed to curdle milk at ten paces; absolutely no words were needed. The message was, “Quit that or you’re dead meat!” At least that was how I interpreted it. Young lovers seem to say whole libraries of meaningful things as they look in their sweet thing’s eyes. Wriggle through the crowd into His presence. See His face. Hear Him speak with His eyes. A lot gets said in a look. CLICK to read

Dare To Enter God’s Presence

The best part of knowing God, for me, is being with Him, enjoying His presence. Lots of us know frustration as we desire to get into His presence, but it seems there is a blockage somewhere. 

How do you get into His presence?

I hear the gears in some of your heads grumbling. “He’s gonna say, ‘Pray more.’”

How many books have you read about prayer? How many magazine articles made you feel guilty? How many times has the pastor stood behind the pulpit, pointed his long preaching finger until it stopped just in front of your nose, and said, “You ought to pray more!”

And you thought, “Yes, I need to pray more. Three minutes and thirteen seconds per day doesn’t get it.” So New Year’s eve you purpose, “I’m going to pray one hour every day.”

The next day you go to your bedroom, kneel down, wrap a shawl around your shoulders (so you’ll look like Elijah the prophet) and you pray one hour three minutes and thirteen seconds.

It’s true that the last 30 minutes you checked your watch every 45 seconds and the last part of your prayer sounded like a countdown to a moon blast, “Ten seconds, nine, eight … one… yes!

One hour, three minutes and thirteen seconds. “Wow! Move over apostle Paul. More spiritual than me, you won’t find.”

Next day you were busy so it was only thirty-three minutes and thirteen seconds. The day after you forgot and the day after that you were watching a series on Netflix that cost you three hours. That day your prayer was thirty-three seconds. Continue reading

Meeting God In “Thin Places”

One of my favorite places to go with my wife was Cochem in Germany. Over a millennium ago, men founded this town. Though today’s atmosphere was probably created more by the Chamber of Commerce than by history, when you’re there you feel like you step back hundreds of years in time.

Phyllis and I accidentally discovered it in 1988 as we wandered alongside the Moselle River, driving up from nearby Luxembourg. Friends had offered to watch the kids so we could get away. We spent the night in a bed and breakfast in Cochem, and the next day went to see the Eltz castle in the forest northeast of town.

The little boy and the historian in me fell in love and Phyllis and I went back several other times, creating vivid memories together—the night of the festival with all the oom-pa-pa music, and the people in old German costumes, for example.

Funny, but we often connect places with good times or bad times. That is a good place for me. A really good place.


Cochem, Germany

Morning Places

I’m a bit like that about the place where I read my Bible and pray in the morning. Just like some Christians are attached to a certain pew, I like to meet the Lord at a spot where I have memories.

At the moment it’s the back deck of our house (it’s really the back porch but I said “deck” so that you younger readers would know what I’m talking about). Before I get my work day gets started,  I love to sit out there. The quietness soothes me. Note, “quietness,” still includes birds singing and crickets cricketing. We’ve got a couple of Robins who think they own the place and we are their renters.

The day has intruded on the night; the sunshine is fresh and soft and I can get centered with God for what’s ahead. Continue reading