Jesus says that God is like a shepherd that has lost a lamb, and although He still has 99 in his fold, he will search for the lost sheep until He finds it. Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite authors. My favorite book of his is Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. All of his books are enjoyable and challenging. In the just mentioned book, he talks about hearing kids outside of his office playing hide and seek. He says when you play that game there is always one kid that hides too well and it ends in all the kids giving up the seeking-leading to fights about the true nature of the game: hiding and seeking and bickering. Listening to them playing he wanted to shout out to the kid hiding too well-"get found kid!" But he figured that would only cause trouble. But in his book he writes that adults too have tendencies to hide too well. We cover up our faults, fears, and flaws, and wonder why we feel so abandoned and alone. He writes, "Wanting to hide. Needing to be sought. Confused about being found" is the diagnosis of the human condition. He says that some people write about God hiding from man. The old term for that is Deus Absconditus-"the God who hides Himself". Fulghum says in reality God is into being found not hidden. He says when he was young they played a game different from hide and seek. The played Sardines. In Sardines the person who is it hides. The rest of the players look for him. When you find him you hide next to him until everybody is hiding together with him, and laughing and gigling so loud their location is no longer a secret. He writes, "I think God is a Sardine player. He will be found in the same way players in Sardines are found-by the laughter of those finding Him-and they are all heaped together in the end".
One of the most beautiful expressions of the seeking nature of God is the poem The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson. He writes, "I fled Him down the nights and down the days; I fled him down the arches of the years; I fled Him down the labyrinthe ways of my own mind; In the midst of tears I hid from Him; under running laughter." But God kept pursuing him and he finally concludes: "Halts by me that footfall; Is my gloom after all; shade of His hand outstretched carresingly?; Ah fondest, blindest, weakest; I am He whom that seekest; Thou longeth for love from me, who longs for thee!" He was found by the one seeking him! All who respond to the Hound of Heaven will be found by Him and finally experience the love we have been seeking all our lives.
There is no gift like being chosen, no pain like rejection. When a reject is chosen by someone a life is changed by love. Mary Ann Bird, in her book The Whisper Test, tells a very personal experience that happened to her. She writes, "I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, a crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech. When asked what happened to your lip? I'd tell them I had fallen and cut it on a piece of glass...I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me...There was however a teacher in second grade that we all adored-Mrs. Leonard. She was short, round, and happy-a sparkling lady. Annually we had a hearing test-and Mrs. Leonard would give it to us. We would stand against the door and cover one ear, the teacher would sit at her desk and whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back to her. Things like-The sky is blue. Do you have new shoes? When it became my turn I waited there for words that God must have put in her mouth, those seven words changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said in her whisper to me, I wish you were my little girl!" Being loved, and being chosen to be loved, even though we are unloveable is the greatest experience that a human being can have.
Experiencing the Love of God changes our lives for time and eternity. Martin Luther wrote, "Now we have received from God nothing but love and favor, for Christ has pledged and given us...everything He has. He has poured out on us all His treasures, which no man can measure and no angel can understand or fathom, for God is a glowing furnace of love, reaching even from the earth to the heavens" Thomas A Kempis wrote, "The one who loves flies, runs, and is glad; he is free and is not bound; He gives all for all, and has all in all, because he rests in one who is supreme above all things, from whom every good thing flows, and goes forth". Frederick Buechner wrote, "We are above all things loved-that is the Good News of the Gospel...to come together as people who believe that just maybe this gospel is true should come together like people who have just won the Irish sweepstakes!" Victor Hugo, in Les Miserables, tells of Jean Valjean, a crimminal pursued by an unrelenting lawman, is shown love by a bishop, and that love changes him into one who reaches out in love to others, and even tries to love the one who pursues him to put him back in prison. The bottom line, and most important statement in Les Miserables is that "to love another person is to see the Face of God!" How true. To experience the Love of God in Christ Jesus is to incur the debt to pass it on! Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:14 and 20 that having experienced the Love of God he found it to be "a love that constrains him to become an ambassador begging others to be reconciled to God and His love." Those of us who have found the love of God, in the Christ of the Cross, must by the resurrecting power of the Spirit join the Hound of Heaven in pursuing those who are playing hide and seek from Him and encourage them to change their game to that of Heavenly Sardines! Let the laughter of every one that finds Jesus be an echo of love calling out to others to join us in that Holy Huddle! Augustine summarized this truth when he wrote-"Love slays what we have been so that we may become what we were not!" By the way-the word "perturbations" is defined "anxiety, mental uneasiness, mental disquiet". God shows His love to us through Calvary's cross. Everyone that is confronted by it finds themselves troubled by the love of God. Perturbed by it-something from which you can only escape by surrendering, or resisting until it is no longer available. The only place that is true according to C.S. Lewis is Hell!