A Hiding God
Categories: Pastor Dave's eNote
Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel. All the makers of idols will be put to shame and disgraced; they will go off into disgrace together. But Israel will be saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation… Isaiah 45:15-17
Where have you been hiding? That was a question posed to me the other day by a member of the church. The truth is that I haven’t been hiding at all. I have been at work with the wedding, a mission trip to Honduras and the launching of a Building Campaign. Busy, but not hiding. I responded to them by saying, “I have been in plain sight all the time – you just haven’t been looking in the right places.”
Some people think that God hides himself from us. In fact, Isaiah proclaims as much to the Lord in Isaiah 45 – “Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself…”
In Isaiah 45 the people of Israel imagined that God had abandoned them. They were captives in Babylon. Cyrus and Assyria however, we’re becoming the new super power and it was clear that Israel would soon be under Cyrus’s rule. What the people of God didn’t know, is that God was hiding himself in Cyrus’s assent to power. God would use Cyrus to free his people and rebuild Jerusalem. Isaiah wasn’t just proclaiming that God hides himself; Isaiah was celebrating!
In Luke’s gospel, the world was inconvenienced by Caesar’s demand for a census. To most, it looked like God had abandoned his people under Rome’s rule. God was hiding himself in Mary and Joseph and their journey to Bethlehem. What was an inconvenience for most, was the unfolding of God’s plan for the world.
In Matthew’s gospel, wise men were guided to the manger by a star. Most people were oblivious to the birth of a new star in the heavens. They never noticed. Wise men who studied stars as a vocation observed the new star and we’re drawn to Christ. What was a question for them, was really an answer for all humanity.
Isaiah is right, “Truly you are a God who hides himself.” However, this is good news. God hides himself in the brokenness of our world and in the confusion of lives. When it looks like life is against us or we’re faced with a multitude of challenges that turn our world upside down, God is there. We might be tempted to imagine, “God has left me” or “God has abandoned me.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. God doesn’t abandon His people. People abandon one another. People give up on one another. People give up on life. People give up on God. But God never gives up on us. He uses everything for His glory and purpose in the world.
Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you. I will be with you till the end of the age.” Paul reminded us that, “nothing can separate us from the love of God” and “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. God doesn’t abandon us, but sometimes God is hiding in the places we least expect him.
On Christmas Eve long ago, very few people could see what God was doing in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph knew God was moving. The shepherds in the fields we’re summoned by angels. A star drew wise men from the east. Most of the world was unaware; lost in the daily challenges of their life or struggling to accommodate Caesar and his census. But God was hiding in Christmas. Little did the world know that God was moving in a great way!
I suspect that all of us wonder about the presence of God. Each of us face challenges. Every day is filled with inconveniences that upset “our plan” for the day. At Christmas when we celebrate God’s coming to earth such inconveniences and challenges make us wonder why he didn’t stay! Take heart, Christmas reminds us that God is hiding himself in places and events you’d least expect. People of faith have eyes to “see” and “ears” to hear. They see God working when the rest of the world is clueless. They hear the whisper of God above the superficial chatter of the culture. They know God is present and purposeful in all things. His ultimate purpose is to make you more like Jesus Christ.
As you move into Christmas, I pray that you’ll celebrate with Isaiah. Let us by faith proclaim, “You are truly a God who hides himself.” In the joyful moments; God is hiding there. In the mundane moments; God is hiding there. In moments of brokenness and pain; God is hiding there. In all moments, God is working. He is working in you. He is working through you. Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow – his presence and his love are unfailing.
Dr. David L. Davis
PS. I look forward to seeing all of you this Sunday for the Choral and Orchestra Presentation of “Our King has Come.” If you can attend the 8:00am service, I hope you will.
PSS. Thank you Kim Gorgoglione. You came to worship early to get your favorite seat on the aisle. Then when a family came late you graciously moved to the center so they could be seated quickly and conveniently. Any church can be a good church. Churches filled with people like you have the potential to be great.