A good Christmas break can bring you back to the full force of who you really are. For two whole weeks I barely traveled, left the home when absolutely necessary, and spent almost all of my time with Brett, Ellia and Olive. We made dozens of Christmas crafts—bell necklaces, paper ornaments, and gingerbread cookies we were forced to eat. We played countless games of tag, running the same path over and over like dogs with boundless energy. We read at least 60 little golden books. Brett and I would struggle to hide our least favorite books before Ellia pulled them out for yet another reading.
But there was one game that dominated our time together. I would count to ten while Ellia and Olive ran to hide. I’d search for the girls, pretending I couldn’t find my children who were hiding in the same place every time. When the girls felt I was taking too long to find them, they’d let out a little yelp—a small, high-pitched signal that they were nearby. I’d acknowledge the noise and they would respond with an excited giggle. When I finally spotted Ellia and Olive, they would both burst with joy at being discovered.
The moment contained both the adventure of hiding and the thrill of being found.
Something about this game brought me back to my truest self. The girls loved it when I’d close my eyes, offering them a chance to run from me, giving them the freedom to go to a place where they couldn’t be seen. But as much as they loved hiding, the game only had meaning for Ellia and Olive when they were found.
We want to be found. We want to know it matters when we run and hide. We want to know that our absence is palpable, that when we leave the room, people want us to come back. We want to know that others notice when we’re present and chase us when we’re not.
Even when I try to disengage from my life of discipleship, even when I want to deny God or the hunger that is deep within, I recognize that I don’t really want to get away with it. I don’t want to run away, I just don’t always know how to stay. I don’t want to be invisible; I’m just not always that comfortable with being seen.
And we need someone to find us. We were made to be found. We’ll call attention to ourselves, even through destructive behaviors—sending out a yelp to let someone know that we’re nearby, even when we take pleasure in our good hiding spot.
The truth is we never want to be outside of the reach of Grace. When Ellia and Olive sneak away, their hope isn’t in winning—their hope lies in being found. This is the gospel: the ongoing hope that we have been found and will be sought after. We are never outside of the reach of grace. There isn’t a hiding place where God isn’t willing to pursue us. We are made to be found and he takes great joy in the finding.
We sometimes resist being discovered for fear it will be too exposing and too shameful. But the God who finds us is the God who loves us, who doesn’t chastise us for hiding as much as he rejoices in our homecoming. And it is this God who continually seeks and finds us, embracing us with delight and love.