James’s Blog: Hide & Seek with God.

James’s Blog:  Hide & Seek with God.

The best time to play Hide & Seek with your children is when they’re old enough to be a bit creative with hiding places, but still small enough to be able to contort themselves into all kinds of sneaky nooks and crannies. If they’re too young, they’re often easy prey for even a semi-competent Seeker. I have played Hide & Seek with children who hide in the exact same spot where they hid last time; children who hide in the exact same spot where you hid last time; children who scream in terror and give away their position as soon as they hear “Ready or not, here I come!”; children who think that curling up in a ball in the middle of an empty room is an adequate hiding place, and children who think that I will not notice limbs or heads protruding from cupboards. Usually I pretend that they are more hidden than they actually are. Life is hard enough without having an ungenerous parent.

That first significant encounter with God is often a long and difficult journey, but once you’ve truly met Him, He becomes like a small child. He will engage in the odd game of Hide & Seek, but usually favours the ‘curling up in a ball in the middle of the room’ tactic, because – like all small children – really He wants to be found. But I have also come to realise that there are plenty of Christians who pretend not to notice Him, not because they’re being an accommodating parent, but because they don’t want to find Him. I’m talking about Christians who don’t find the God who wants to be found because it’ll ruin their sulk, or Christians who have their heads so tangled up in bad theology that they can no longer tell the difference between God and an armchair.

In a recent post I questioned whether or not God is ever far from us. In this post I am suggesting that He is often closer then we think, and can barely contain His hiddenness, but sometimes we stubbornly refuse to meet His gaze, because we prefer to hold on to our self-pity or our false view of God as some distant, impersonal Chess master.

I know that life is complicated, and metaphors are often inadequate, but I also know that there are plenty of times where I am my own worst enemy and that, if I’m honest, there are times when I haven’t met with God and I’d rather pretend that it was His fault.

James’s Blog: My Wife.

James’s Blog:  My Wife.

There was a very small window when Ruth was the more prominent one in our relationship. We were newly married and she got involved with the worship group at church, while I sat in the pew saying and doing nothing worthy of notice. In those days I was known as ‘Ruth’s husband’. Eventually I began preaching, and even ended up working for the church for a few months, so that was the end of that. Since those days Ruth has mostly been ‘James’ wife’.

I am typically the more public of the two of us, which is ironic because she is infinitely more sociable than I am, and better with people generally, but that’s just one of the many crosses that she has to bear. It’s also ironic because most people don’t realise that, when they’re thanking or encouraging me for my speaking or writing, there would be no words without her. Without her, life would have chewed me up and spat me out many years ago. I only have things to say because of the road we’ve travelled, and without her I wouldn’t have survived the journey. She has been my best friend and my most loyal champion over the years, and without her I dread to think what kind of existence I would have had.

I don’t believe that there’s Biblical justification for the concept of ‘soul mates’, but I do believe that there are certain partners who will bring out the best in us, and who will be of almost limitless help in our journey to become more like Jesus. I also believe that when looking for a spouse, the question “Will this person help me grow, and can I help them grow?” is without doubt the most important question to ask. I was young when I married, and I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was pursuing God, and that shaped the many conversations that He and I had about Ruth. Knowing me as He does, He knew that she would be good for me.  Ruth has been my greatest proof of God’s generosity and grace.

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