Out of Hiding

When I visit my grandchildren, one game they love to play is Hide-and-Seek. I like it too, for a couple of reasons: all ages can play, and tired grandmas can choose hiding places where they can rest quietly for a few minutes.

Once in a while, instead of hiding themselves, the children enjoy hiding special toys. Hunting for Matchbox cars or finger-size princess dolls can be the ultimate in Hide-and-Seek challenges, but bigger items are fun to search for.

IMG_4624The last time we played, it was Skylar’s turn to hide something, and she chose her pink purse.

Wisely, she tucked it into a bush full of pink blossoms, and those of us looking for it had a tough time. We walked past it again and again without seeing it. Eventually we had to ask her for clues in order to finally find it.

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Sometimes we can feel we’re playing that kind of game with God, like he’s hiding from us in a place that’s impossible to find. And how about when we ask what his will is for us? Does he keep that a secret, too?

I think of Moses up on Mt. Sinai, all alone with God. He said, “Show me your glory, Lord.” In other words, “Come out from your hiding place.” And unbelievably, God did! He showed Moses something no other human being has ever seen.

And that wasn’t even all of it. Moses asked God to give him a partner in his travels through the wilderness, and God responded by saying he would personally take the job, guiding Moses with an audible voice. Another time when Moses asked what to do with obstinate followers, God answered him definitively. And when he stood in the gap and asked God to forgive the sins of others, God did that, too.

Why was it that Moses seemed to “find” God so easily? Why did God have such a high opinion of Moses? I think the key is in his attitude.

Moses viewed God as his only personal hope for succeeding at anything, his go-to Person for every need. He didn’t make plans apart from the Lord and never thought of God as his last resort. His first move was always toward him. And then, when he was told what to do, he followed orders exactly. He also spent time worshipping God, sometimes face-to-the-ground.

Pink purse..God looked favorably on Moses, to the point of coming out of hiding in a dramatic way. And he’ll find favor with us, too, if we’ll honor him as Number One. After that, finding him will be even easier than finding a pink purse hidden in a pink bush.

One day Moses said to the Lord, ‘If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully’.” (Exodus 33:12-13)

Seeing Eye-to-Eye

A week ago while I was visiting Linnea and her family of 6 in Florida, I marveled at how she got so much accomplished each day. Maybe that’s because she’s a goal-setter and a list-maker, but I think it’s more about knowing that her life as a wife and mother is a high calling.

I enjoyed watching Linni deal with 4 young children, home-schooling 2 and keeping careful track of the others. Somehow she manages to spend one-on-one time with each of them, each day.

Linni and kids.

Of greatest interest to me was her method of discipline, probably because I was never much good at that as a young mom. When Linnea was about to reprimand one of the kids, she’d always start the same way. Bending down to their level she’d say, “Skylar (or Micah or Autumn), look at me.”

The child might take a quick glance at Linnea’s face but then, inevitably, would look away, knowing that whatever was coming next wouldn’t be good. But Linni wouldn’t deliver her message before she’d gotten their full attention. “Look at my eyes,” she’d say again. “Here,” pointing to her eyes. “Look here.”

The child often took another quick peek but then repeatedly looked away until Linnea absolutely insisted. “Eyes,” she’d say. “Right here,” pointing to her own. When finally both pairs of eyes locked in, she’d “deliver the goods.”

God does the same thing with the rest of us. Though I can never physically look him in the eyes, I can always “see” what he’s trying to tell me through what Scripture says. But watching Skylar, Micah, and Autumn automatically look away from Linnea was a powerful object lesson for me.

How often do I do the same thing with the Lord, glancing left or right or even worse, right past him, pretending not to notice he wants me to pay attention? Of course trying to dodge the gaze of the Almighty is ridiculous, even more so than children trying to avoid their mother’s eyes.

The Lord goes to great lengths to connect one-on-one with us. And thankfully he perseveres, because he has important things to say. The only way to move forward in the Christian life is to listen to him and then heed his words.

Hebrews 12 offers a warning: “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking,” meaning Jesus. (v.25) Even if we know his message is going to be one of rebuke or correction, we can take comfort in knowing his discipline comes from a heart of love. (vv.5-6) So there’s never reason to fear receiving his focused attention.

As for Linnea’s children, one day they’ll thank her for taking the time and making the effort to always look them in the eyes.

“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus….” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Don’t wait.

Mom and Dad in the snowDad always used to say, ”If a blizzard comes in December, January, or February, shovel it up quickly. Otherwise you could be slipping and sliding on it until March. But if a blizzard comes in March, don’t worry about it. It’ll melt away on its own.”

Yesterday we had a blizzard in my neighborhood. It was two days after the start of spring, and thinking of Dad’s words, I didn’t even get my shovel out of the shed. But I probably should have looked at my iPhone’s weather app.

Last night we went down to 15 degrees, and this morning our 5″ of snow was crunchy, slippery, and very difficult to walk on with hard ice underneath. As Birgitta struggled up the front walk carrying Emerald today, I felt bad that I hadn’t shoveled.

A slippery walkDad’s rule has proven true over the years, maybe 95% of the time. But this blizzard was an exception. And it reminded me of times in my history when I’ve had a crispy cold heart toward certain situations or, in some cases, toward certain people.

It’s always best to “shovel away” accumulated “ice” by dealing with it sooner rather than later. If our frigid attitude is toward a set of circumstances, we should promptly make an analysis: if there’s something we can do to warm things up, we should; if not, we ought to hand it over to God so he can do it.

If it’s a relationship that’s become icy, we ought to look seriously for the reason(s) and act quickly to sort it out, particularly if it’s inside of a marriage. Relationship problems never “melt away on their own.”

And if we find ourselves cooling toward the Lord, we ought to get out the proverbial space heaters. Letting ourselves drift into a spiritual deep freeze can lead to a frosty relationship with the one who has offered to keep us warm from the inside out. And if shoveling away the relationship snow seem too daunting a task, we can remind ourselves it’ll never be any easier than it is “today.”

IMG_2630As for my crusty front sidewalk, the weather app tells me it’ll hit 52 degrees tomorrow and that a spring rain will wash away all the ice and snow. So in terms of blizzards, I guess Dad was right again.

“Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8)