Monday, October 1

Hide and Seek

Intro:
Have you ever played "Hide and Seek" with a young child? When my nephew was two or three, we would play all the time. He loved to hide...but I think he loved being found even more! The excitement was so great, he wouldn't even stay in his hiding place but would burst out yelling, "Here I am!"

If we're honest, many of us play "Hide and Seek" with God and with others. We want, in our deepest places, to be found...to be known...but the risks involved with discovery are so great and we've been hurt so many times before that we prefer to hide. Why take such big risks when the dangers are so real and the wounds sting so deeply?

Brennan Manning writes:
Is there anyone that I can level with? Anyone I dare tell that I am benevolent and malevolent, chaste and randy, compassionate and vindictive, selfless and selfish, that beneath my brave words lives a frightened child, that I dabble in religion and pornography, that I have blackened a friend's character, betrayed a trust, violated a confidence, that I am tolerant and thoughtful, a bigot and a blowhard, that I hate hard rock? (from Abba's Child)
We humans are a strange mix of saint and sinner, aren't we? And we wear our masks so well trying to convince people we are a certain way. We really don't want them to see the real us. What would they think?

So who can we truly be honest with? Where do we go with our mass of contradictions? With whom can we stop hiding and really be ourselves?

Read: Selected verses from John 4
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." 11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." 13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water."

16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying 'I have no husband': 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." 25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things." 26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."

28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" 

Think:
It may be difficult for us to relate to the Samaritan woman because our culture is so different from hers, but if anyone knew what it was like to hide from others - and from God - it was her. No one came to the well in the middle of the day - it was too hot and too far from the village - unless they were avoiding other people. As the story unfolds, we see why she was hiding, why she was avoiding others. She has been married five times - shocking and shameful behavior in that day and setting. She was not married to the man she was currently living with, an offense punishable by death according to the Law. She was a woman who had made bad choices and lived a life steeped in shame. She wanted to hide.

At the well, she meets Jesus, a Jewish man. We could spend so much time on this passage, but I want us to think about how Jesus knows her. He is aware of all her background and all her past. He questions her and even when she tries to distract him with theological points or cultural differences, his questions focus on her heart. Whether she wanted to hide or not, Jesus lays everything out, exposes it. 

What was it about Jesus that kept her there? Why didn't she run away in shame? He knows and he loves her. He did not condemn her. He did not judge her. He offered her living water. He offered her a fresh start. He offered her a new life. Jesus, the Messiah, knew everything about her, and he didn't run away. He invited her to walk with him and find a love and a presence that would satisfy her soul.

Brennan Manning asks, "Is there anyone I can level with?" We have a savior who knows all about us - more than we know about ourselves - and He loves us unconditionally. We cannot escape his presence and no matter what we do, he won't run away. Instead, he meets us where we are and walks with us, if we'll let him, on a new path toward a transformed life.

Do:
Find a quiet place, free from distractions. Take a moment to close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Tell God you want to stop hiding and invite him to be with you as you seek to be honest about what's going on in your life.

Ask yourself one or more of the following questions. If you are doing this in the morning, think about the previous day. If in the evening, think about the day you've just finished. It might be helpful to write out your responses. When you're finished with a question, pause and invite God to speak to you by His Spirit on what you've written. What does He have to say about it? 

  • For what moment am I most grateful? For what moment am I least grateful?
  • When did I give and receive the most love? When did I give and receive the least love?
  • What was the most life-giving part of my day? What was the most life-thwarting part of my day?
  • When today did I have the deepest sense of connection with God, others and myself? When did I have the least sense of connection?
  • Where was I aware of living out the fruit of the Spirit? Where was there an absence of the fruit of the Spirit?

Close your time by thanking God that he knows you so intimately and loves you so unconditionally! 

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