Awhile back I attended a worship conference with great anticipation. I always had great experiences with the Lord at these conferences, as I met connected with Him through new worship songs and being with 5,000 other whole hearted worshipers. However, at this conference I did not experience anything. Nada. Zilch.
I expressed my disappointment to the Lord and I was given a vision. In the vision, I saw Jesus from a distance. But as I walked closer to him, I realized something peculiar. He wasn’t moving. In fact, I realized I wasn’t seeing Jesus, at all. Rather, it was a cardboard cutout of him – propped up, like a store display! Attached to the cardboard cutout was a note:
“I’m not here anymore. You’ll have to seek after me. Love, Jesus.”
Jesus was playing a game of hide n seek with me!
After some reflection, I realized that this “game” was for my benefit. My experiences with him at worship conferences, in worship services, and in personal times when I sang worship songs actually limited my concept of who God is and what worship is. It was like I was expecting Jesus to show up every time I worshiped through music, and especially at these conferences where the music and the crowd kind of hype up the sense of expectation. But this vision exposed three “not-so-holy” attitudes that were creeping into my life:
1. “God-on-demand” – like the “movies-on-demand” button on my remote where I can watch any movie at any time I want, I was developing an attitude that God should “show up” and give me what I need, whenever I wanted it. “God-on-demand.” I could see why God wanted to nip this at the bud. For if God showed up every time I demanded, He wouldn’t be God anymore … I would. That’s a sobering and scary thought!
2. “Worshiping the experience” – this is a really hard one to see, but it’s easy to fall into this. God blesses us with experiences and revelation that are amazing. And He gives us these experiences because He loves us; He wants us to know He and His love are real. But when we desire those experiences too much, we start to worship them – instead of worshiping the Lord. And there is so much more to God than what we get from these special experiences.
3. “God only meets me during this time” – I was limiting how God could connect with me. It had to be one of those worship experiences. It had to be the right song. It had to be the right environment. It had to be a perfect musical execution. If not, my fragile connection with God would be lost! That is the farthest thing from the truth, but it’s easy to get sucked into that mentality. The truth of the matter is that God desires to reveal Himself to us in many, many ways. That is one of the beautiful things about our God: He can reveal Himself to us in just about anything. Even in trials or the ugliness of life.
The Lord, in His ever-gentle manner, reminded me of the value of seeking Him. As the Psalmist and Prophet write, “Seek His face!” (Ps 27:8) and “You shall seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13).
From that moment on, God has been playing “hide n seek” with me. And as I sought Him, I found Him; again and again and again. First, it was in my reading of Scripture. Then it was in a time of intercession. Then it was in a flower that I stopped to gaze at and smell. Then it was in an act of service I got involved in. Then it was in an act of grace that someone extended to me. The more I played this game with God, the more I realized He is EVERYWHERE and He is AMAZING! As well, I began to understand the danger of “pigeon-holing” the Presence of God only in ecstatic, pumped-up, worship (music) experiences. God is so much greater than to be confined to one-way of revealing Himself and connecting with us.
Has God ever played “hide n seek” with you?
What are some ways God has revealed Himself to you that you did not expect?