“There’s something in our room!”
Untangling himself from the quilt and sheets, Kenny stumbled out of bed then picked up speed, sprinting clumsily out into the hallway. Shaking from that rude awakening, heart thumping wildly, I wriggled down in the bedding, conflicted about my next move. I could hear Kenny bumping into chairs, pictures, and a few assorted knickknacks as he fumbled for light switches in the early morning shadows. I heard a couple of annoyed grunts and breathless groans and a whole lot of unidentifiable clamor, all the more ominous and frightening because I had no idea what was happening and who or what was being chased around my downstairs. I shivered again under the covers, more from fear than the chill, staring into the blackness, wondering if I should grab my trusty Daisy Red Rider hidden in the back of my closet. The seconds seemed to stretch into what felt like unbearable hours. Then Kenny’s heroic silhouette appeared in the doorway and he flipped on the overhead light, spreading welcoming brightness into the bedroom. “Get me some towels,” he commanded like a four-star General preparing his troops for battle. He pivoted crisply on his bare heels and bravely marched back toward the fray. He spared me a salute.
Towels? I had been imagining a scruffy armed terrorist skulking through my living room--or a headless horseman or a bloodthirsty pirate. Yes, I have a very active imagination. So, retrieving towels did not seem to me to be a very necessary or urgent mission given our dire circumstances. We needed a strategic battle plan including force to save us from my as yet unnamed enemy.
“Towels?” I repeated incredulously…this time out loud. “Are you kidding? What on earth do you need towels for?” Okay. Not my best honoring wife moment. I was not confidently trusting in Kenny’s role as my fearless protector and leader for sure. But I did gingerly tiptoe across the bedroom floor to the linen closet in my bathroom. “And what is loose in this house?” I yelled, dreading his answer.
Kenny tossed his response over his shoulder as he grabbed his baseball bat from the corner, storming the kitchen battlefield. “It’s some animal.” My heart thudded harder as I stepped into my slippers and zipped up my bathrobe. An animal? A mouse? No, Kenny wouldn’t be worrying about a mouse. A bat? Maybe, but this creature seemed to be something skittering around the floor. Not bat-like. A snake? Oh, no! That was a distinct possibility. I shivered again but forced myself to move toward the ruckus, gripping the towels like my life depended on them.
As I stepped into the kitchen, I peeked around the table into the mudroom. I saw it, back against the door to the garage. It was quivering in terror, its huge eyes fearfully darting from Kenny to me as it frantically searched for a way of escape. Kenny stepped back to get the towel I offered him and, in that instant of his distraction, the critter dashed right past us and scampered down the hallway back into our bedroom.
“It’s Rocky,” I giggled in relief. “All we need is Bullwinkle.” If you are younger than 55 you will have no idea who I’m talking about. Whatever did we do without Google? Anyway, my anxiety dissipated as quickly as it had appeared and I eagerly gave chase. The little fuzz-ball with those huge eyes was simply adorable. I almost wanted to keep it! “However did a flying squirrel get in here?” I asked Kenny. He was too busy rustling the curtains and peering under the bed to even hear me.
I wish I had taken a picture. It was the cutest thing ever.
We had quietly crept into our bathroom on our search-and-rescue mission, and there, half-buried in the beach towels in the bottom of our linen closet, was our little home invader. In my hurry to grab the towels for Kenny, I had inadvertently left the closet door wide open, a perfect safe haven for squirrels on the run. The little guy’s head and arms were totally hidden, but its hind feet and scrawny, trembling little tail were fully exposed for the world to see. Well, not the world. Just us. We stood there and laughed, out of breath. Because it couldn’t see us, it thought we couldn’t see it. No, not a very effective “hide” job. Not at all.
My precious grandkids have played this same game of Hide and Seek. As I count to ten, they bury their cherub faces in a pillow, torsos completely exposed, but, shivering with excitement, wait for me to “find” them. Of course, I never do. So, giggling, the pillow is pulled off and I hear something like, “Here my am, Grammy. You couldn’t see me.” Sweet. But again, not a very good “hide” job.
Sorry to say, like my little Rocky and my beautiful grandchildren, I often find me hiding. My tail is probably showing too. Not a very effective hide job, right? And to be honest, I’m pretty tired of playing this silly game.
I’ve hidden a lot over the years of my life. I hide when I feel inadequate or insecure. I hide when I am fearful of people or a situation. I hide when I need to confront something or someone. I hide to avoid pain or failure or conflict. I hide when I can’t please. I hide when I sin and am ashamed. I hide when I am uncertain about what’s next or what’s going on or where I am headed. I hide when a task seems too daunting. I hide…a lot.
So what does “hiding” look like? In my life, it looks like avoidance, isolation, facades/masks, gratuitous conversation—and stomachaches, migraines, and sleepless nights. I may disappear altogether (with very proper excuses, mind you) or I may be present but intentionally unengaged and cautiously wary. But that’s only when I quite foolishly forget my true and merciful Hiding Place. And the One who sees me no matter why or where I am hiding. My ways are not hidden from Him (Isaiah 40) and the darkness is as light to Him (Psalm 139). No matter what, He sees even more than my tail!
A worship hymn I love, You Are My Hiding Place, is based on three scriptures.
Psalm 32:7 says, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
Psalm 56:3 reads, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
Finally, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 states, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, I am strong.”
Here are the simple but profound words:
You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You
I will trust in You
Let the weak say
I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
I will trust in You
The crux of the matter, no matter the situation, is my fear (so I hide) and my lack of knowing and trusting my Good Father (so I hide). I’m as foolish as the squirrel. Just as Kenny gently enveloped that quivering critter in soft towels and carried him ever-so-carefully out the back door to freedom, my Father wants me to willingly surrender to Him in the messes, insecurities, uncertainties and cares of my life, to know Who He is, to trust Him to cover me with His love and hide me in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 17:8).
But He also wants to get me where I belong...delighting in whatever comes my way (weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties—all terrifying to me, all situations that normally compel me to hide) so that I may reveal to a watching and needy community the power and beauty of Christ in me, knowing He is strong, His grace sufficient. He wants to display His redeeming and refining work in me so others will be drawn to Him as well.
Sunday, Pastor Erik said that the observing world is never attracted to our faking and that our messy stories are valuable in demonstrating the work of God in our lives. I am in process. I wish my story were “This is who I was…,” but that would be a lie and I want to be real. Though Jesus HAS graciously made huge differences in so many areas of my life (including this one of absolute trust in Him), I still sometimes find my fear default mode to be “Hide!” Too quickly I still forget Whose I am, Who He is, to Whom I should run, and in Whom I should trust. Then, sadly, I run like our Rocky. How foolish!
So, when you see my tail, pray for me. I want to be a recovered hide-a-holic. I long to, in all honesty, tell you, “This is who I was…” No more stupid hiding games.
I am very thankful He is a patient Father and that He is not finished with me yet.
Or with you.