Baby in a Chair, 1825
ALMOST all of us at some point believe — or act as if we believe — that we can hide from God. It’s as if we think or assume that God has other things to do than be with us. Seven billion people, and many more in production — God couldn’t have time to focus on everyone. We assume God’s indifference or distraction. He doesn’t really see us. He doesn’t really know what we just thought or said. We look at the throngs on city streets, the seas of traffic, the soaring population statistics and we think, “He couldn’t care about us all. What an absurd idea.”
When we go about ordinary life as if God were not aware of every single thing we do, we are hiding from God — but out in the open. Did you ever play hide-and-seek with a little child who thought that he could not be seen when he closed his eyes? Hiding from God is sort of like that. We think that because we are oblivious or blind to God’s presence, He cannot see us.
But He can. God is everywhere, closer to each one of us than anyone else. He is within us and without. He is not constrained by time or number or space. His attention span is infinite. Add a few more billion of his creatures, he would fit each one in. He knows everything: our thoughts, our actions, our intentions, our successes, our failures. There is nowhere in the world where we can go and hide from Him. He is the most benevolent and loving of spies. He is our Father.
So much of what Jesus said makes no sense unless He is with us, each one of us, constantly. For instance when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” who knows whether someone is poor in spirit if not Jesus Himself?
When a person goes about as if God were not aware of every single thing he does — and we have all done it — he is trying to hide from God. He is attempting the impossible.
We cannot hide from Him, and once we realize this truth, and truly take it in, we have uncovered one of the greatest secrets of existence and the foundation of a happy (in the non-sentimental sense of the word) life. Come out in the open. You are known.
You are known by Someone with high expectations.
I was recently hiking in the New Hampshire mountains with my husband when we came to a waterfall, a plunging precipice situated above two smaller falls. A little girl of about eight years old had somehow jumped across the rocks in the pool below the first waterfall and ended up stranded on the other side, too frightened to go back. She was part of a large Orthodox Jewish family and everyone was caught up in rescuing her (except the mother, who walked away nearly in tears and said, “I can’t watch this” and a few of her older brothers who took advantage of the emergency to play unsupervised.)
The father was confidently and calmly leading the rescue. He went over to the other side and was showing the girl how to step back over the pool via the rocks. All the time, the father had a baby boy of about eight months strapped to his back. The baby was back-to-back with his father. He was facing outward, looking up at the sky and trees. As the water was roaring around them and the father was coaxing his daughter over the wet rocks, the baby’s lids grew heavy. He had been chewing on something, but the movements of his jaws slowed. As the father stepped over the rocks, inches away from possible disaster, and held out his hands for his daughter to jump toward him, the baby opened his mouth one more time — and then fell asleep. He just conked out. It was as if he were a tired commuter on a train at the end of a long day. He was oblivious to danger on the slippery rocks or in the deep water below. It would have been comical if the situation had not been so alarming.
That’s how we should be — like the sleeping baby, who knew his father was there even though he could not see him. We can no more hide from God than a baby can hide from his loving parents. God sees us. He knows us. He watches us. We should strive to be aware of His presence as a baby who relies on his parents for everything is aware of their presence. We should pause frequently — and notice Him, converse with Him, admire Him.
And we should know that it is precisely because of His presence that all danger is ultimately not true danger if we trust in Him, just as all was well for that little girl, who finally walked through the pool (instead of on the rocks), and for her brother, who slept while dangling over rushing water.
There is only one true danger on the slippery precipices that we encounter in life — and that is forgetting the presence of the Father who loves us, who sees us every single moment of the day and from whom we can never hide. Read More »