By Vince Antonucci
My family has been watching a new TV show called, “Hunted”. It’s billed as “The world’s most elaborate game of Hide & Seek.” It’s a reality show competition series where nine teams of two players each become fugitives trying to escape capture for 28 days. The problem is that they are being hunted by a team of over 30 expert investigators, including former FBI, CIA, Navy Seals, US Marshals, forensic psychologists and intelligence analysts. The hunters have access to cameras that are everywhere and seem to see everything, and to the player’s phones, computers, friends and family. If the players can evade capture for 28 days they win $250,000, but it quickly becomes obvious: The hunted don’t have a chance.
If you've been paying attention to my last couple of blogs, you probably know where I'm going with this. We often try to hide from God, to hide our sin, or to runaway. As possessors of fragile souls, living in a dangerous world, it can be easy to spend our entire lives in hiding. But God is omnipresent. That means he is literally everywhere and literally sees everything. Hiding is futile.
Most of us know that, but still don't live that.
Have you ever:
- Said, “I need to watch a movie and just escape for awhile”?
- Been sad and found yourself eating a tub of ice cream?
- Felt uncomfortable with the way your life is progressing but instead of dealing with it just started playing some mindless game on your phone?
- Been unhappy with your husband and drifted into a fantasy world in which you were married to someone else?
- Gotten angry at someone and went to the gym to “blow off steam”?
- Felt guilty and used some kind of religious activity to feel better about yourself?
- Been unsatisfied with your sex life with your spouse so you turned to pornography?
- Not liked the way you felt others perceived you, so you bought something for them, or let them take advantage of you, all in the hope they might like you?
Where Do You Hide?
Some people hide behind a mask. They create a false self they show to God and/or the world. The false self we create may be happy all the time, or too tough to be hurt, or a sinless church-goer.
Others hide in their isolation. They put up a wall between themselves and God, and between themselves and other people. The thinking is, if I don’t let anyone get too close, I can’t hurt them, they can’t hurt me, and they can’t make me feel bad.
There are people who hide in alcohol or drugs. They use chemicals to numb themselves, in an attempt to ignore the guilt of the sins they’ve committed or the pain of the sins committed against them.
What about you? Do you hide behind a mask, or in isolation, or in alcohol or drugs?
There are other options. It could be that you escape to a fantasy novel, or to your Facebook feed, or through food, or sex, or shopping. You might let people take advantage of you so they’ll like you, or work long hours at the job to avoid relationships. Your strategy might be to tell lies, or to gain power over people through anger.
Our souls are fragile, the world is sinful, and we try to escape the damage or the bad feelings by hiding. We may not realize it, but a lot of what we do is driven by our soul needing a safe place to hide.
Every soul needs a safe place to hide, to feel protected, a refuge.
The crazy good news available to us is that God offers to be our hiding place, our protection, our refuge. Why is that crazy? Because He’s the one we’ve sinned against! He’s the one we think we need to hide from. But God is so loving, so full of grace, that instead of giving us the punishment we deserve, He offers to be our hiding place.
In fact, God offers to be, or is pictured as, a safe hiding place for His people, a refuge they can turn to, about 70 times in the Old Testament alone! Here are a few:
“In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth” (Psalm 31:1-5).
“My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:7-8).
“Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress” (Psalm 71:3).
“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust Him” (Nahum 1:7).
Then in the New Testament, God comes, in the person of Jesus, down to earth to find us. We discover that God is hunting us. God is everywhere and ever-determined, so the odds are stacked against us evading Him.
Does God hunt us so He can punish us for the sins we’ve committed? No, He wants to find us so He can be the refuge against the punishment we deserve for our sins. Jesus proclaimed that He is our hiding place. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
It’s crazy, isn’t it? It would be like if, in that TV show, the hunters found the hunted, and then said, “Quick, we’re going to help you hide, so you can win the $250,000 from us!” Um, that doesn’t make sense, and that is not going to happen. But that is exactly what God does. We have sinned against Him, therefore our souls need a safe place to hide from the guilt and the punishment our sins deserve, so God offers to be the hiding place for our souls, even though that means He had to take the guilt and punishment on Himself.
Will You Come Out Of Hiding, So You Can Hide In God?
In some versions of Hide & Seek, the Seeker would finally yell out, “Olly olly oxen free.” (Which, by the way, is a weird phrase!) Olly olly oxen free meant, “Come out of hiding. The game is over. It's safe.”
I think if you listen really close, you might hear God shouting, “Olly olly oxen free.” He’s calling you out of hiding. He’s calling everyone out of hiding. The problem is that we’re afraid. We’ve sinned. We’ve been sinned against. It’s scary to come out of hiding. It feels safer to continue to hide.
But remember, God is calling you out of hiding, so you can hide in Him. He’s calling us to bring all of ourselves to Him – the good parts, the bad, the sinful secrets, the shame. He’s omnipresent, He is everywhere and sees all, so He already knows. Nothing is really hidden from Him. But, still, He’s calling us to bring all of ourselves to Him. And He makes a promise to us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And He makes an offer to us, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust Him” (Nahum 1:7).
Come out of hiding, and hide in Him. Make God your safe place.