Hide And Seek

I’m really good at hide-and-seek. You know the game. No, not the one you played as a child. I’m talking about the hide-and-seek you play as an adult. Adult hide-and-seek is similar to the children’s game, but instead of the guarantee that when you hide someone will seek you out, you hide and wonder if anyone will seek you out. That is, if you care at all. Most of the time it should probably just be called “Hide and hope nobody notices that they haven’t seen or heard from you in a while.”

This hide-and-seek is much less fun and much more depressing than the game we played as kids. The excitement of being found and the laughter, giggling, and screaming “Ha! I found you!” and “Ah! You found me!” is replaced by wondering if anyone even knows you’re hiding or thinks to look for you. When playing hide-and-seek as a child, you often choose a dark, isolated place where nobody else is, where you can’t be easily seen or found. But when you play as an adult it doesn’t matter where you are; being out in the open in the middle of a room full of people can be darker than anywhere you hid as a child.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, our intent as the hider is the same in both games. We want to find a place where it’s hard for someone to find us, but not impossible. What good would it do to find a place where nobody can ever find you? In either game, if we hide in a place where it’s impossible to be found and never give ourselves up or come out of hiding, we will eventually die. Granted, the likelihood of a child hiding that well and being that committed to the game isn’t very high, but as an adult we can absolutely be that committed. This game may not lead to physical death for everyone who plays it, but if we play it long enough and are committed enough, it can easily cause us to die inside and lose who we are. It’s a dark place and the longer we stay there, the darker it gets.

So, when we find ourselves in that dark place, how do we get out of it? I’m not sure I know. I’m probably not the best person to ask because, if I’m honest, I feel a lot of comfort in that hiding spot. I’m not afraid of the dark and I enjoy being by myself, so it feels like a safe place. It’s a place where I don’t have to worry about much or be anything other than alive. But it’s not a place where we can ever truly be alive.

You may not have to worry about whether you are good enough, but you’ll also never know how it feels when someone accepts you for who you are. 

You may not have to worry about whether you will ever be successful, but you’ll also never be able to appreciate the good things in your life.

You may not ever have to worry about whether you are going to let someone down, but you’ll also never know how it feels to lift someone up.

You may not have to worry about being a disappointment, but you’ll also never know what it feels like to bring someone joy.

You may not have to worry about whether anyone will like you for who you are, but you will never really know who you are.

To find our way out of the darkness we must focus on the light. Granted, it may seem like a microscopic dot of light in the distance or a flickering flashlight that needs fresh batteries, but it’s there. The light is always there and even the smallest, faintest hint of light will overcome the darkest darkness. It will still seem dark at first, but when we focus on the light and begin to move toward it, the darkness will begin to fade away. The closer we get to the light, the less we will notice the darkness. Our goal should be to get so close to the source of the light that all the darkness is behind us.

It won’t always be easy. There will be times when we hear those feelings of inadequacy, doubt, fear, and worry shouting out those familiar numbers, trying to drag us back into another game of hide-and-seek.

1…”You’re not good enough!”

2…”You can’t do anything right!”

3…”You’ll never be successful!”

4…”You’re a failure and a disappointment!”

5…”You don’t deserve to be happy!”

Those numbers being shouted at us, they are coming from the darkness, trying to pull us back in to that hiding place. The difference between this game of hide-and-seek and the one we played as kids is that when we were kids, the numbers eventually stopped and the person counting would try to find us. In this game, if we listen to the numbers being shouted out at us, they will never stop and there is no “Ready or not, here I come!” There are an infinite amount of numbers and an infinite amount of lies that will continue to be shouted at us until it is all we hear. Rather than instinctively heading back to our hiding place, we must let it be a signal to refocus on the light. For when the numbers are being shouted out from the darkness, it is the light who calls out to us “Olly olly oxen free!” 

Advertisements

God Is Going To Use You To Do Great Things

God is going to use you to do great things.

For some, it will mean writing a bestselling book that changes the lives of people all over the world. For some, it will mean writing songs that will be used in churches every Sunday and leading sold-out crowds in inspiring times of worship. For some, it will mean leading a mega-church where you preach to thousands of people each week and see countless people saved in response to your messages.

For some, but not for most.

Since nearly every Christian has at some point been told or has told someone else “God is going to use you to do great things,” why is it that we so often feel discouraged, disappointed, or like our lives are just so…normal? Why do we feel like the ways God uses us are so average and unimpressive? Our typical response is to tell ourselves and others who feel this way that this is just a time of preparation – God is preparing and equipping you so that when the time comes, you will be ready and able to do the great things he has for you to do.

But what if that time never comes? What if you go through your whole life and never feel like you have done anything great for God? What does it say about us that the things we view as great are typically the things that bring fame to our name? The truth is, most of us will never reach thousands of people at a time through a book we write, song we sing, or message we preach. Most of us will never seem anything more than normal, average, and unimpressive, but it’s often in the normal, average, and unimpressive that God is using us to do great things.

Those times you sang Jesus Loves Me to your son or daughter at bedtime – that was God using you to do something great.

The Sunday School class that you taught for a couple of weeks or many years – that was God using you to do something great.

The dinner you made for the family who just lost a loved one – that was God using you to do something great.

The encouraging words you spoke to a co-worker who was having a rough day – that was God using you to do something great.

The example that you set for your kids that caused them to want to follow Jesus – that was God using you to do something great.

That note you wrote to your pastor, thanking him for the time, energy, and passion that he gives week-in and week-out – that was God using you to do something great.

The diapers you changed and babies you rocked – that was God using you to do something great.

The money you gave and prayers you prayed for missionaries around the world – that was God using you to do something great.

The times you forgave people who hurt you – that was God using you to do something great.

The years you spent working jobs you hated in order to provide for your family – that was God using you to do something great.

The mornings you spent opening the door for people and welcoming them to church – that was God using you to do something great.

The hug that you gave someone who was going through a difficult time and wondered if anyone cared – that was God using you to do something great.

The legacy you leave that causes generation after generation of your family to follow Christ – that was God using you to do something great.

The great things are in the little things. The normal, average, and unimpressive things you do that bring glory to God and build others up – that was God using you to do something great.

Soul Spelunking

Introspection is like exploring a cave…the deeper you go, the darker it gets.

When we notice things in and about ourselves that we don’t like, we begin to examine ourselves and try to figure out what is causing us to be that way, as if it would give us an excuse or an acceptable reason for why we are the way we are. When we focus on ourselves, what is inside, and why we are the way we are, it rarely ends well. More often than not, it leads us to the realization that we are the way we are because that is who we are.

Light shines in from the outside, so the deeper you go by yourself, the more the light fades, the darkness overwhelms, and disorientation sets in. Instead of continuing the descent into darkness, turn around and walk toward the light. It will give you a flicker of hope at first, then guide your way, and will eventually consume you.

You can’t focus on both the darkness inside and the light outside. Whichever one you decide to focus on will continually increase and if you turn sideways and try to focus on both, you will just keep running into walls.

Humility And Confidence Can Co-Exist

“Pride goes before a fall.”

We have all heard this phrase many times and have repeatedly been reminded not to be prideful, but to instead strive for humility. It’s great advice and is even addressed throughout the Bible.

Proverbs 11:2 (NLT) – “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

Proverbs 16:5 (NLT) – “The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished.”

Proverbs 16:18 (NIV) – “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

James 4:6 (NIV) – “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Humility is a desirable virtue and pride is to be avoided; the problem is that we often focus more on what we don’t want to be than on what we desire to be. We try to rid ourselves of anything resembling pride with the assumption that once all pride is gone, humility will remain. When the focus shifts from seeking humility to avoiding pride, it’s easy to end up with no confidence or sense of worth. It is important to be able to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously, but there is a fine line between being able to laugh at yourself and making fun of yourself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being self-deprecating, but when we become self-deprecating, we can unintentionally destroy any confidence or sense of worth we may have, no matter how noble our intentions.

We assume that humility and confidence are incompatible, but there is a difference between being prideful and being confident of your worth because you understand that God created you and values you. Being prideful is not having too much confidence – it’s believing that you are good enough on your own or that you are more important than others. Humility is understanding that I am no better than you; that, without God, there is nothing truly good about me. Being humble has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you. It is placing others not above myself, but in place of myself.

Humility and pride cannot co-exist, but humility and confidence complement each other perfectly, so we should strive to live with a humble confidence that comes from knowing and understanding your value and worth and realizing that they come from God and not from anything you have done or could do. It comes from believing that God is in control and will always be with his people. When we have a correct understanding of who God is and how great God is, we will realize that any sense of pride we may feel about ourselves will pale in comparison to what we will feel when we have lived our lives in a way that makes God proud of us and we hear Him say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

How Deep Are Your Roots?

Drifting away from God is never something we intend to do; it just kind of happens. We get tired, busy, lazy, or distracted and our relationship with God suffers. Most of the time, it’s not even bad things that keep us from God – it’s too many things. We have a limited amount of time in each day, so every time we add something to our lives or to our schedules, something else gets pushed out. Often, the things that get pushed out are the things we most need to be in.

When we drift away from God, He is willing to let everything that gets in our way of a relationship with Him be stripped from us.

Isaiah 6:13 – “…as a terebinth or oak tree leaves a stump when it is cut down, so Israel’s stump will be a holy seed.”

Notice what it says – that Israel will be cut down and the stump will be a holy seed. We hear that and think it’s a bad thing, but really it’s what we all need sometimes – a fresh start. It may be difficult for us to view a tree being cut down to its stump as a good thing, but it’s what is under the stump that really matters – the roots. The roots are what sustains the tree; what determines how healthy it is and how high it will grow. A tree with deep, healthy roots will be stronger and better equipped to make it through violent storms than a tree with shallow roots.

Just as the roots are what sustains a tree, our relationship with God is what sustains us. The deeper we are rooted in our relationship with God, the better equipped we will be to endure the storms of life. If we want a faith that is deeply rooted in God we must be intentional about doing the things that will cause our roots to grow deeper.

Sometimes we need to get back to the basics.

When we feel overwhelmed, when life gets so busy and hectic that it feels impossible to focus, and when we can’t feel God’s presence like we once could, the best thing we can do is eliminate every unnecessary thing, get back to the basics of study, prayer, and worship and focus on rooting ourselves deeper into the One who can sustain us.