I used to love playing hide and seek when I was younger.
In fact, if any childhood game had a ‘hiding’ component to it, I thrived on it — flashlight tag, ghosts in the graveyard, kick the can, manhunt — you get the idea!
I prided myself on being good at hiding.
I was an expert at being aware of my environment and which spaces made for the best cloaking that would conceal my location.
My goal was to always be the last one discovered for the sole purpose of wearing the crown: “He Who Could Not Be Found.”
Sadly, I realized later in life that I wasn’t only good at hiding physically… I was also a master at hiding emotionally and spiritually.
Years of experiencing rejection led me to be a play actor.
I was brilliant at playing so many different roles — roles that I thought would win me the leading part in the relational spheres of those I was trying to impress.
In other words, I was whoever you wanted me to be for one sole purpose: I wanted your acceptance.
For most of my life, I have tried to ﬁnd in people what can only be found in God.
My pain drove me to crave what ultimately seemed to escape me.
Because I was so afraid of rejection, I would distance myself from people — building walls to shield myself from the pain of not being preferred.
Over time, I became institutionalized. I grew used to the walls and preferred their view. I enjoyed their false sense of protection.
Vulnerability came with a cost I was unsure I wanted to pay.
The message of rejection is simple: There’s something wrong with you. If there wasn’t, why are people treating you that way?
Unfortunately, the way you see yourself will always determine your capacity to receive love from others.
This was my story with God.
I let Him save me, but I didn’t let Him love me for a very long time.
In fact, I expected to be punished more than I expected to be loved by Him.
Sure, I had a radical encounter with Him at 19 years old that resulted in deliverance from various substance abuses and other things, but that encounter didn’t deal with the roots that fed the fruit that I was set free from.
In other words, that one encounter didn’t change my opinion of myself.
Before I knew it, I was playing hide and seek with God.
Because I had a natural tendency to focus on what was wrong with me, I lived in the expectation of punishment.
But the truth is that God didn’t come to point out what was wrong with me… He came to make wrong things right… He came to give me a new start, a new nature — one that was born again and that was marked by freedom.
Without even realizing it, though, I had shaped God in the image of those who had rejected me.
I lived fearing His disappointment.
I awaited His punishment and harsh words.
But they never came…
What has always chased me, however, is His love, His kindness, His tenderness, and His mercy — everything I have never deserved… but are the very ingredients necessary for changing the way you see Him and yourself (see Romans 2:4).
God’s answer to the way you see Him and yourself is not punishment… it is not a good tongue lashing or an “I told you so”… it’s not rejection… it’s His embrace.
All of hiding is motivated by fear. Seeking is motivated by love.
The enemy works hard to distort the image of God in our lives. And he will use how you were treated in life and the mistakes you have made to do so.
The first effect of sin was a distorted view of the Father.
When Adam and Eve heard the sound of Him in the garden after they had disobeyed, they became afraid and hid.
Even then, God didn’t come to “get them,” He came to restore them… I know this because He asked one simple question: “Where are you?”
This is who God is.
In these last days God has spoken through His Son (see Hebrews 1:2) and has revealed who He is and what He is like through Jesus Christ.
He is the One who came into the world not to judge it, but to save it.
He came not to punish, but to restore.
He came to seek what was hiding.
Let this reality draw you out of where you’ve concealed yourself.
Let’s learn to live in His embrace.
Let’s begin to expect love rather than punishment.
And let’s let the truth conveyed through Jesus Christ determine who God is and what He is really like.
He is not the reﬂection of what you grew up with. He’s the perfection of what many of us never had.
- Brian Connolly, Itinerant Minister & Author