Have you ever played “Hide and Seek” with a four year old? It’s not uncommon to have them hide in plain sight, kinda sorta behind a piece of furniture or not quite around a corner. Then they pop into full view and announce “Here I am !!!”
Believe it or not, there’s a lesson hiding in there somewhere.
It’s a game that spans both centuries and continents. I think everyone everywhere knows HOW to play hide and seek. But have you ever considered all of the WHY’s to play, aside from the aspect of natural fun, that is?
For the youngest children, there’s the aspect of developing object permanence; the understanding that things can still exist even when we can not directly see them. As they grow older, getting a group of folks involved in the game develops skills like conflict resolution, learning to take turns and impulse control. Evaluating hiding places and learning which ones were good ones (and why) develops logical assessment skills. Having to run and find a hiding place before the counting stops will develop solid task initiation, planning and prioritization skills; because once you hear “Ready or not, here I come!” you need to be already hiding! When you’re “it,” remembering where you’ve already looked versus the places you haven’t will develop working memory. Psychologists write about the joys of being “found” and also how hide and seek helps kids lay the foundations needed to deal with separation anxiety.
Today’s verse says HERE I AM! If you’re looking for an easy verse of scripture to memorize, that’s about as easy as it gets.
In my opening illustration, I spoke of a 4-year-old who’s been hiding, then pops back into view and announces their presence. So it’s sort of turning hide-and-seek around for Jesus to show up and say, “Here I am!” because in a very real way WE are the ones who typically try hiding from Him. But He looks for us anyway, because He knows the joy that it will bring us to be found by Him. You could even say that the reason Jesus came was to play hide-and-seek. He told the chief tax collector in Jericho — a man that LOTS of people were hiding from — that He intended to come to his house and even stay for dinner. While Jesus was there at Zack’s house, He told the tax collector that He had come to seek and to save the lost.
The people who hated Zack because of his job grumbled that Jesus was hanging out with sinful people. But they didn’t realize that’s the ONLY kind of person on earth! We are ALL sinners, every stinkin’ last one of us. From bishops to brothel workers and cops to con men, NOBODY you meet can tell you they are not a sinner. (Or if they DO, at least you know they’re a liar, too!) All of us are DEAD in our sins, and dead people don’t run around looking for anything or anyone. That’s why Jesus had to come searching for us.
When He finds us and we decide to follow Him, the life that He has fills us and we can begin to grow in our faith. Just like He did with Zack, He comes into our life and invites Himself to stay for dinner; because it’s an image of building a relationship, resolving conflicts and learning to manage our feelings. When you understand that image, then the verse in Psalm 23 where King David writes, “He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies” will begin to make more sense. It’s not so they can observe you having dinner, but so that you can gather around the table to address offenses, extend forgiveness and see to the task of beginning to rebuild the relationship. Forgiveness is the foundation of faith, both for me and for those who have offended me.
One of the first lessons faith teaches us is the understanding that things can still exist even when we can not directly see them. It’s been said that having to see everything you believe is almost as bad as believing everything you see. Actually, the bible defines faith by saying that faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. Even though we cannot see Him, we can be certain that Jesus is still with us; He’s just hiding Himself for a short time because He knows that it is better that His Holy Spirit works in us as we are developing skills like conflict resolution, learning to take turns and beginning to practice impulse control so we avoid sin.
As we grow in Christ, we need to employ our logical assessment skills to evaluate the gifts and talents He has given us, then use that knowledge to identify the places and ways He is calling us to serve. We need to learn which ones are good ones (and why) based upon our abilities. That’s where our task initiation skills kick in. It does no one any good if we hang around doing nothing for Jesus. Salvation is a gift that is totally free. But FOLLOWING JESUS will require effort, commitment and absolute determination. Jesus has finished His turn on earth, and now you’re “it” when it comes to being the hands and feet of Christ in a lost and dying world. The planning and prioritization skills you learned playing hide-and-seek now come into play. What’s most urgent and important? What’s the objective? What’s the optimal outcome? How do we get there from here? What help do I need?
Jesus says –
“HERE I AM” —
Below you to be your foundation
Above you to be your shield
Beside you to be your protector
Within you to be your strength
“Here” – in your midst and aware of every thought, every threat, every need.
“Here” – even though you cannot see Me – for now.
BUT one day Jesus will announce from heaven, “READY OR NOT, HERE I COME !!”
Trust me – You WANT to be ready.