Shortly after my youngest son turned four years old (many, many years ago), he approached me while I was reading on our sofa. A most solemn look shadowed his normally cheerful, often mischievous, expression.
“Daddy,” he said looking up at me. “Can I sit next to you?”
“Of course!” I answered, my heart jumping with joy at the thought of my little boy wanting to be with me but wondering what was on his mind. He climbed up and snuggled close to me and then sat still for a moment holding his little toes. He was clearly deep in thought.
“Daddy,” said he, breaking the stillness. “Yes?” I returned.
“God can play ‘Tag’ really good, can’t He?” he asked with utmost seriousness in his expression and tone.
“What do you mean, sweetheart?” I asked, looking into his big eyes.
“If you run away, God can catch you really easy, can’t He?” he explained. “Hmm,” I said.
“And He can play ‘Hide-and-Seek’ really good ‘cuz He can see you anywhere you hide, right?” “Umm,” I said.
“Maybe God could play ‘Freeze Tag’ sometime with us,” he mused thoughtfully rocking back and forth beside me. “Uh,” I said.
How to respond? I chuckled on the inside, but realized immediately both the important lesson of which God was reminding me and of the profound nugget of spiritual insight that He seemed to be already sharing with this little one.
In Psalm 139, verses 7-12 (ESV), the Psalmist sings, “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You.”
Just how often DO we play games with God? Are we playing “Tag” with God when we run from His loving touch? “You’re not gonna get me, God! My life is my own!” Like Saul (later, Paul) of Tarsus in Acts 9:1-6 who thought that he was “It” in defending God, but found out that Jesus is really “It,” the Holy One, the One sent by the Father to redeem a lost humanity.
Maybe we instead play “Hide-and-Seek” with Him as we try to run away and hide, stubbornly refusing to believe that God’s way is better than our own. “No, God, not THAT! I’d do ANYTHING but that,” we’ll cry, bellyaching almost as much as Jonah who tried to hide from God but ended being a literal bellyache (see Jonah 2:10). Do you suppose that God sometimes gets “indigestion” from all our excuses and complaints?
Or do we try to play “Freeze Tag” with Him, thinking that we must live from one “spiritual high” to another, useless unless and until He “touches” us with a flood of euphoria? Too often we get stuck “frozen in place” whenever difficulty or opposition come against us. But, for some reason, in understanding our human frailty and having compassion on us, He touches us with His love anyway.
Remarkable, isn’t it? God’s pursuit of us is relentless and He loves us in spite of all our idiosyncrasies. “O LORD,” it says in Psalms 139:1-6 (ESV), “You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”
The One Who made the stars, Who weaved the tapestry of the sky together and crafted the universe from His words alone, knows you, your activity and all your thoughts. Such knowledge is indeed too full of wonder for us to comprehend, but there it is: God knows who you are and loves you in spite of yourself. His hand comes upon you in mercy as He tugs at your heart to draw you to Himself. “Tag!” God seems to shout as His hand touches our hearts.
“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV).
And what a life that God has mapped out for you! Though fraught with pain and sorrow at times, this journey finds its origin and destination at the same point of reference: God’s love! Though mysterious in His ways and in His reasons, He leads you on the path that will most bless you and best reveal His glory!
“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with You” (Psalm 139:17-18 ESV). Beautiful, isn’t it? “Still with Him.”
And, of course, that IS the best part! Being with HIM! Just as my heart overflowed as my young son longed to join me for the mere pleasure of my company, so the Father longs for you to “climb up into His lap” for nothing more than the pleasure of His company.
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at email@example.com.