Playing hide-and-seek with small children provides minimal challenge. Often children select obvious places (hiding under a blanket in the middle of the room) or, if the lights have been turned out, will request that you hide with them. At times the anticipation of being found becomes intolerable, and they burst out of closets or cupboards yelling, “HERE I AM!” However, once children grow older they become adept at disappearing.
I feel as though I possess a thorough knowledge of my home. Yet my offspring dematerialize into secret places whenever I try seeking them. After exploring every known corner of my dwelling, I am forced to admit my inferior seeking skills and I call out, “Okay! I give up.”
“Seriously, you can all come out now!” I fear a masochistic gene has been passed onto my children since they choose to remain quiet for an inappropriate amount time — leading my mind to wonder if they wandered outside or got stuck in the chimney. We don’t have a chimney, but that only demonstrates the crazed state of my mind during these prolonged silences.
Eventually they reappear with wild laughter and mock my incompetence while I embrace them in a pool made of my own tears. Once reunited I interrogate them as to their whereabouts … but they never tell me. Fear melts into paranoia as I contemplate the possibility of a clandestine tunnel system somewhere in the house.
I recently reflected on these hide-and-seek experiences while attending a Union College recruiting event. As I listened to potential students ask questions I remembered my own big questions during the later of years of high school. What college should I attend? Whom should I room with? What campus job should I apply for? I wonder who I will date … or if some girl will be merciful enough to date me? Am I sure this is the major God wants me to pursue?
That last question brings up what tricky prize believers everywhere want to find — God’s will. For a lot of people trying to figure out what God wants them do to feels like a game of hide-and-seek — God hides, and we have the infuriating job of trying to find Him. Okay, I give up — you can come out now! Please?!
Part of the problem for a lot of Christians is “paralysis by analysis.” When we are entrusted with a major life decision we become so nervous to make a bad choice we lock up — like somehow we will step outside of God’s will and take the wrong job, attend the wrong church or date someone who isn’t THE one. By the way, if you think about it, the idea God has just ONE person for us makes no sense. If we really hang on to that concept then figure all it would take is ONE person in history to marry the wrong person, all of us would end up with the wrong person.
So how can we process the task of uncovering the elusive will of God when faced with decisions?
Way back in the beginning we read, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:15–17).
In this passage the Creator tells Adam he can enjoy a forest of options and only one is off limits (and it is well-identified). Too often, believers reverse this — we picture God as creating only one good option amid of forest of death. Look, only ONE of these trees won’t kill you — good luck! Don’t die! This paints a terrible picture of God.
What’s more, as the narrative continues and humanity falls, it isn’t God who hides — it’s us (Gen. 3:8–10). The rest of Scripture is the story of God and His will seeking us, not the other way around. Now this doesn’t mean there aren’t bad choices or that we don’t put any effort into a relationship with Jesus, but it grants us peace to know that sometimes we are privileged enough to have more than one option to choose from — and Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us even when life becomes challenging.