Costumes are a great way of trying on another personality or donning an acceptable disguise. I would not embarrass our children with specifics of their actual photos, but these vintage costumed children remind of me many dress-up days in the past. Our costume box still holds a treasure trove of memories.
When our children were very young, their favorite bath time game for awhile was to hide under a towel and see if I could find them. They would ball up on the floor with faces hidden in hands and little curved backbones simulating a miniature dinosaur emitting muffled giggles because they knew they were invisible. Since they could not see us, they thought we could not see them. I would search around the room, then with great fanfare uncover the little one to peals of laughter and hugs. There was such delight in being found! This game never got old, though it ended the same way every time.
There must be universal appeal in playing variations on hide and seek. We love to hide, and we also like to be found. Remember what it was like to hide, and no one came to find you? Maybe the other kids had found each other and had moved on to another game, but to the one who was left hiding, the feeling was definitely a let-down. We were left out. Overlooked. Abandoned.
That does not happen in our relationship to God. This is good news.
God is always seeking us, ever drawing us out and inviting us into fellowship. The Lord God is not content until all God's children are found. We call this working of grace in our lives God's prevenient grace: That which goes before us, whether or not we are aware of it - and I love this old-fashioned word - this grace woos us, drawing us tenderly toward Love. What a picture of a loving heavenly father and nurturing parent who seeks out a hiding child as though to say, "I know you, and I love you. I take great delight in you."
A favorite children's book, Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney, is a memorable illustration of going to attention-getting extremes to prove the point of one's love and devotion. Little Nut-Brown Hare discovers that love is not an easy thing to measure. It's a nice read for adults too.
Someone else expressed this sense of wonder beautifully centuries ago, marveling at God's nature - God's ability to be utterly present with us:
There is no place we can flee from God's presence. In our discomfort or embarrassment, many times we run and hide. We hide and sometimes declare we don't want to be found. And just as children do, adults have a hard time admitting what is at the root of our emotions. We tend to blame others and lash out. When will we ever learn?If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me fast. Psalm 139: 9-10
Even when we are not intentionally hiding, in the deepest pit when we may feel abandoned, we are not abandoned. We are held fast - securely. Attributing hands to God Who is spirit need not be a stumbling block. The expression occurs frequently in scripture and is an acknowledgment of God's power, authority and exalted position.
There is a memorable song by Natalie Grant, "Held" which I love. The chorus reads:
This is what it means to be held
how it feels
when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive.
This is what it is to be loved
and to know
that the promise is when everything fell,
we'd be held.
This is what it means to be held...
We have occasions to think of that often. Life doesn't grant a reprieve from pain and loss because we profess faith or belong to a particular denomination or house of worship. We remember that the rain 'falls on the just and the unjust.' But we can know the companionship of the One who will not leave us alone nor forsake us.
And, at the end of the day, we are never left 'hiding under the towel' believing that we've so cleverly disguised ourselves that no one will know the real us. We may fool ourselves for awhile, and we may even distract others along the way, but there is One who sees us as we are - naked and bare under our disguises - and loves us anyway.
This will be an everlasting love!