From where do you seek God?
As I consider this question, I'm drawn back into the Garden, into an Eden on the edge of the curse, where the God who walked among His people was first sought, where two sets of eyes peering out from the brush searched for Him in a way that man never had. And in a way that man still does.
Prior to the whole fruit fiasco, God had never had to be sought; He simply was. He simply walked around in the Garden, His footsteps on the same lush creation at Adam and Eve's. There was no looking for Him; He was right there. There was no wondering what He was doing; it was all in plain sight. There was no question about this Lord; the glory of Him walked among us. But a bite or two later, and all that changed.
Oh, God did not change. No, He still walked around in the Garden, still left His footprints on the same lush creation. He was still right there, right in plain sight. But bushes don't make good windows, and so, from the place of great shame, Adam and Eve began their search for Him, starting with the sound of His footsteps approaching in the cool of the day.
The truth is, it's here that we do our best searching. We do our best seeking after God from the brush, from the dark places. From the places that make the worst windows, where light is hard to come by and all the little gnats and flies and bugs are buzzing around. From the darkness, from the dirt, from the miserable, from the shame - it is here where we do our best seeking.
Though it rarely occurs to us that we are the ones who need to be found.
Typically, in a game of hide and seek, one party hides and the other seeks. One longs to find; the other labors not to be found. But this is not the case with us and God. This is not how it goes in the Garden. In the Garden, God does not change His presence. He does not mask His glory. He just...is. Just as He's always been. He knows, we can assume, that He is being sought from the bushes, but He does not hide.
It is we, the seekers, who are hidden.
And that is our difficulty. That's what's so troubling about this. We who hide also seek, as though it is He who must be found and not us. The leaves obscure our eyes, the darkness cuts in, and we are sure it is He who exists in wisps and shadows; we have all but forgotten the dirt on our knees. We swat at the bugs the fly in our faces, as though it is some version of the plague that struck Egypt, not remembering that this shrubbed place is their home, not ours. We peer through the smallest spaces, just big enough to see a glimpse here and a glimpse there of glory, and we wonder why He will not simply show up. We forget that we are crouched down.
We ask why it is that this God that we are seeking is not seeking us, but the truth is that He knows already where we are; it is we who have forgotten.
In a game of hide and seek, there is one who is seeking and one who must be found. But in our Christian lives, it is often we who are both. We are playing from both sides. And the only answer to our trouble is to stand up, to shake off our shame, and let ourselves be found by the very God we seek.