I’d just seen him through the windows playing basketball in the backyard. So, where was he now? Did he leave when I wasn’t looking? Did he run off to a friend’s house? It was time for dinner and I couldn’t find my son. Anywhere. I went outside and called his name. I looked around the yard, in the garage, behind the fence, in the front yard. Nothing. I didn’t hear him come inside, but I called for him in the house. I looked in each of the rooms. Nothing. I was starting to get concerned now. He isn’t usually the type to just run off, but maybe he saw a friend? I began to walk around the neighborhood, even knocked on a couple of neighbor’s doors to ask if he was over playing with their boys. Still nothing. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find him.
I was starting to panic. How could I have lost my son while he played in the backyard? Where would he have gone? I went back to the backyard to look one more time (maybe he’d come home?). Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the movement. Barely perceptible, but something had moved behind the big planter in the back. I walked toward it and there he was. Hiding. Champion of a hide and seek game I didn’t know we were playing. He’d been right there in the yard the whole time, I just didn’t think to look so closely. I was convinced he must be out somewhere, not inside our own fence.
Are you playing hide and seek with God?
As I read this poem below in a devotional this week, I thought of how often we play this game of hide and seek with God. How often we go looking for God but keep our hearts hidden. How often we go outside ourselves for God, searching high and low for any sign of him, yet he’s waiting inside our hearts the whole time. Waiting for us to simply slow down and allow ourselves to be found by him.
I said, “I will find God,” and forth I went
To seek Him in the clearness of the sky,
But over me stood unendurably
Only a pitiless, sapphire firmament
Ringing the world, blank splendour; yet intent
Still to find God, “I will go seek,” said I,
“His way upon the waters,” and drew night
An ocean marge, weed-strewn and foam-besprent;
And the waves dashed on idle sand and stone,
And very vacant was the long, blue sea;
But in the evening as I sat alone,
My window open to the vanishing day,
Dear God! I could not choose but kneel and pray,
And it sufficed that I was found of Thee.
~“Seeking God” by Edward Dowden
Stop looking for God. Instead, surrender to his search for you.
Madame Guyon was a French mystic in the 17th century who taught and wrote about prayer and finding God within. Early in her life, she met with a Franciscan friar to discuss her struggles looking for God. Here’s her story of how she finally found God:
“He hardly came forward and was a long time without speaking to me. I, however, did not fail to speak to him and to tell him in a few words my difficulties on the subject of prayer. He at once replied, ‘Madame, you are seeking without that which you have within. Accustom yourself to seek God in your own heart, and you will find Him.’ Having said this, he left me. The next morning he was greatly astonished when I visited him again and told him the effect which these words had upon my soul: for, indeed, they were as an arrow, which pierced my heart through and through. I felt in this moment a profound wound which was full of delight and love – a wound so sweet that I desired it would never heal. O, my Lord, you were within my heart, and you asked of me only that I should return within, in order that I might feel your presence. O, Infinite Goodness, you were so near, and I, running here and there to seek you, found you not!”
How are you finding God?
How often do we go out looking for God? We seek him high and low. We look for him in nature, in church, in other people. Yet, we don’t need to go anywhere or look beyond ourselves to find him. He’s waiting for us inside the whole time. We don’t need to find him because he’s already seeking us. We need only to surrender our search and allow ourselves to be found.
Are you looking for God? Desperately seeking to find him in your life?
Stop. Be still. Look inside your own heart. Open yourself to be found. You’ll find God when you stop looking and realize instead he’s seeking you.
“Finding God is really letting God find us; for our search for him is simply surrender to his search for us.” ~Harry Emerson Fosdick, in The Meaning of Prayer