THE OLDEST GAME IN THE WORLD
By Vince Antonucci
When you were a kid, did you like playing Hide & Seek? I did, but I had a recurring problem. As soon as I settled into my hiding place, I’d inevitably realize I had to use the bathroom. I was fine before the game began. I was fine while I carefully scavenged the perfect hiding place. But something about the words, “ready or not” provoked my bladder to mutiny. I know what you’re thinking, Vince, you’re a guy, peeing outside is totally okay. I considered that when my prayers didn’t materialize a Port-a-Potty, but I didn’t want to continue hiding in what had suddenly become a make-shift toilet. And I knew the moment I embraced my wild side I’d be found…and never hear the end of it.
When we talk about Hide & Seek, we’re talking about the oldest game in the world.
It’s the original game, played by the original people, Adam and Eve. Not only were Adam and Eve the original people, they were also, in many ways, the perfect people. They had never sinned, or experienced the negatives of life like worry or guilt or fear or bad memories or pain or embarrassment or bad relationships. They were continually experiencing all the positives of life, like joy, and contentment, and love, and fun, and peace, and wonder. More important, they were experiencing a perfect relationship with God. They were close to Him, talked to Him like old friends, and He provided for them, sustained them, and gave them a full life.
Then it all came crashing down.
Adam and Eve had it all, including the freedom to disobey God. Unfortunately, they made the choice to do just that. After rebelling against Him, we read, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Adam and Eve sin and immediately realize they’re nudists. Eve says, “I didn’t know. Did you know?” Adam says, “No! If I knew I was a nudist, I would have been playing a lot more volleyball!” (I assume nudists play a lot of volleyball.)
Adam and Eve felt vulnerable, self-conscious. Because of their sin, their perfect existence and relationship with God was shattered. So what did they do? They went into hiding, “and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8).
They hide and so … God seeks. Genesis 3:9, “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” The story of the first people is the story of the first sin, and the first game – Hide & Seek.
Why is the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible?
Well, first, because it happened.
Second, because it happens. What happened with Adam and Eve is what happens with you, and me, and every person since the original people.
We all sin. As it was in the beginning, God’s dream for our lives is a perfect existence featuring a perfect relationship with Him. What complicates that is the freedom to choose that God has given us. Unfortunately, every person has used that freedom to rebel against God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:21).
We all hide. Sin makes us feel vulnerable, self-conscious, guilty, ashamed. We don’t know what to do with ourselves, but we do know a holy God can’t be happy. So we hide.
Where do you hide?
I assume if you’re reading this, you’re probably a Christian. And, as a Christian, you might assume all that “we sin” and “we hide” stuff was meant to describe non-Christians, or Christians before they came to faith. No, I was talking to everyone. Me, you, and everyone else. We still sin, and we still hide. So, again, I wonder: Where do you hide?
Some people hide from God in their supposed intellectualism. The evidence for the validity of the Bible, and the reality of Jesus’ life and resurrection is staggering. But some people hide from God by claiming science has “proven” He doesn’t exist and that the Bible is just a book filled with myths.
Other people hide from God in their busyness. They’re advancing in their careers, improving their homes, doing all kinds of things with their family, and finding ways to entertain themselves, all the while ignoring the spiritual dimension of life. Personally, I don’t like silence. I want music or the TV on all the time, I’m always doing something, and I wonder if in some sense, I’m hiding from God.
I believe some people hide from God in church. They show up at church faithfully, but they don’t have a relationship with God. They may believe in God, but they don’t talk to Him, don’t listen for Him, and don’t deal with their sin. Yet they can ignore all that and feel like they’re good because … they go to church. They’re hiding from God in church.
Some people hide from God in their good works. This is the person who feels guilty about their sin, but instead of truly going to God, in repentance, for forgiveness, this person focuses on doing good deeds. The truth is that this person is hiding from God in those good works.
The temptation for all of us is to hide from God. The truth, though, is that we want to be found. God is calling us out of hiding and into an authentic, fully transparent relationship with Him. That may scare us, but deep down it’s what we long for.
We want to be found.
Remember when you used to play Hide & Seek? At first, it’s fun to hide, but soon you just wanted to be found. You’d cough, or stick your foot out, or sneeze.
Not too long ago, I found myself playing an interesting game of Hide & Seek. While my friends cooked, I was recruited by their daughters Suzi and Vika, who were 5 and 3. They would hide and I would count to ten, then yell, “Ready or not, here I come.” Immediately Vika, the 3 year old, would call out, “Here I am Vince. I’m hiding in the bathroom.” I’d go find her. The next time, “Ready or not, here I come” and Vika would call out, “Vince, I’m hiding behind the couch, come get me!” She made it pretty easy for me.
If there’s some sense in which you’re hiding, let me encourage you to make this easy for God. He doesn’t need you to. He’ll keep seeking you either way. But why put it off?
God wants to be in a relationship with you. God wants to set you free from whatever sin has its claws in you. He wants to love you unconditionally, which will work to heal your wounds and fill you with a new foundation for self-esteem. God wants to provide you with a sense of purpose and adventure. He wants to give you peace and contentment, fill you with joy, and give you hope. Why put that off?
Hiding just doesn’t make sense because, really, we want to be found.
We Can’t Actually Hide Anyway
There’s another problem with our hiding; it’s that God is “omnipresent.” That’s the theological way of saying that God is everywhere. God is everywhere, which means hiding is futile.
David realized that in Psalm 139:7-8,
We don’t really want to hide from God. That’s good news.
We can’t hide from God. That’s more good news.
There’s even better news. I’ll share that with you next time.
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