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Where Can I Hide?

I became very much acquainted with Psalm 139 during my time at Trinity Cathedral, Columbia, SC where I prepared the Youth for Rite 13 ceremony. The rite is a wonderful opportunity for parents, family, and friends to affirm the new reality of being a teenager and the blessings and challenges that come with it. This is the part that gets to me: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” These are some reassuring words for everyone, much more a teenager.

Reading Psalm 139 over and over again reminds me of the unconditional love of God and the extent to which even my darkness and yours aren’t enough to hide us from God.

Margaret Wise Brown, in her classic book The Runaway Bunny, tells of a little bunny who wanted to flee. So, he said to his mother, ‘I am running away.’ ‘If you run away,’ said his mother, ‘I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.’ ‘If you run after me,’ said the little bunny, ‘I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.’ ‘If you become a fish in a trout stream said his mother, ‘I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.’‘ If you become a fisherman,’ said the little bunny, ‘I will become a rock on the mountain high above you.’‘ If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,’ said his mother, ‘I will be a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are.”

It appeared that the mother wasn’t ready and willing to give up on the little bunny, and it didn’t matter what he did or where he went. It didn’t matter the circumstances in which little bunny found himself. Do you feel the same way about God?

Sometimes I feel like that little bunny. And don’t you sometimes feel like the little bunny, too? There are times when we feel ourselves sink so low. There are times when we feel the heavy burdens of life’s trials, ills, and challenges consume every bit of the little energy that we have. There are moments when we are overcome with temptation - to the point where we want to run as fast as we can and as far as we can. There are times when our shame makes us think that we can hide from God or need to hide from God because we don’t want God to be a part of it.

But if God isn’t a part of it, who do, or can, we trust to be a part of it?

There’s the story of Adam and Eve, hiding from God because of their sense of shame. They felt that their disobedience was such that they could hide from God, and so they hid themselves. But they soon came to find out that there was no way that they could fully hide themselves from God.

There’s also a story of a woman who had been hemorrhaging blood for over twelve years. She had been to the best doctors but none could heal her. She heard that Jesus was in the neighborhood. She knew that Jesus had been healing people. Could she also be healed? Can the Lord turn her mourning into dancing? Was it possible for Jesus to change the trajectory of her life by offering her the same healing that he has been offering to those who went to him? She saw people milling around Jesus. She didn’t know what to do, but she knew she didn't want to be seen. In the midst of the crowd, this woman hid herself.

Who are you hiding from?

Fear and shame drive us into a kind of abyss where we can even be lost while surrounded by others, thinking that they may not care as much about us or what we may be going through. But remember, there’s no way we can hide from God and there’s never been an instance when we are not pursued by God’s unconditional love - that love which knows no bounds and even in our shame and fear evokes in us the pride of being God’s beloved.

And so, even as the woman hid, it was that one pride of knowing that she was God's beloved that motivated her with this assurance: “If only I can touch the hem of his garment, I can be healed.” And when Jesus invited the one who touched him to come out, she came forward and fell at his feet, but with a new understanding that you cannot hide from God.

Think about Jonah, who refused God’s call and decided to run away. He thought that God was geographically limited and so by getting in a boat and traveling to a far and distant land, God wouldn’t be there to see him there. But it turned out that he couldn’t go away from the presence of God.

Where can I go from your presence? Nowhere! Where can I hide from you? Nowhere! This is because you, God, are everywhere, and much as it scares me to know that I cannot hide from you, it is gratifying to know that I can find you wherever I go and whenever I need you.

God's seeking of each of us hasn’t been about our judgment; it has always been an outreach of mercy and compassion, healing and nurturing, comfort and solace.

Margaret Wise concludes her book with this line from Mother Bunny: “Here, have a carrot.”

Don’t we all need carrots for our long journeys?

Would you take the carrot if it were offered to you?

I long to rest in your presence, my Savior, because you haven’t hidden your face from me.



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