Tag Archives: children

Playing Hide ‘n’ Seek with God

By Eugene C. Scott

Do you ever feel as if God is playing some cosmic game of hide ‘n’ seek with you?

I do!

There are times when I ache for God’s touch, God’s presence, God’s answers to my questions and hurts. I pray; I read; I worship; I ask; I wait. Then there are other times when I’m slogging through my daily routine and God jumps out from behind a can of beans in the grocery store.

I don’t get it!

One of my favorite games when my children were runts, was hide ‘n’ seek. I was usually it. Except I didn’t actually hide. I didn’t need to. Instead I sat on the floor with my head sticking above the arm of the couch I was hiding behind or I climbed under the covers of their beds and left my big hairy feet poking out. My kids searched and searched and finally squealed with delight when they found me. And oh how I loved being found. Then we rolled and laughed and tickled and gave kisses.

They shouted, “Again, Daddy, again!”

Sometimes, however, no matter how obvious I made myself, they failed to find me. Perhaps nap-time pulled covers over their eyes, or a pending trip to the zoo competed for their imaginations, or cookies called out from the jar, or a past correction from me caused fear. So, there I would sit with my head and toes, and now my bottom lip, protruding. “Come on, kids find me,” I’d call. No answer.

Is that how it is with God? Is God hiding in plain sight but something in us obscures our vision? Past experiences, searching for significance outside of God, busyness, self-doubt, the lights and sounds of daily life all cloud our vision.

It seems so. “If you seek God, he will be found” 1 Chronicles 28:9 tells us. God informs Isaiah, “[I can even be] found by those who do not seek me.”

Yet according to God’s perspective, “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:11) Why do we have so much trouble connecting with God?

Honestly I cannot say why one person sees God’s brush strokes in a sunset while another sees only polluted air particles refracting light. Maybe in this game of hide ‘n’ seek with God—though it is far too momentous to be left a game—we misunderstand that God is not hiding but us. God so desired to be found he encased himself in flesh.

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus said. Jesus Christ was “God with us.” What was the difference between Thomas who saw Jesus and cried, “My Lord and my God,” and others who saw Jesus perform miracles and called him “Beelzebub,” the devil? I believe the difference was that Thomas bared his soul while the others remained hidden in religiosity and self-importance.

Sometimes I am so self-deluded. I practice my religious disciplines while using them to hide from God. I pray not wanting answers; study not looking for direction; seek so as not to be found. Deep down I know an open nakedness to God is what is called for. Yet I’m afraid. “Where are you?” God asked Adam way back in the beginning. As if God did not know Adam was hiding naked behind a bush. God knows we are fearful and distracted and unsure and not perfect—that we are naked. Yet God loves us and seeks us and even allows us to continue to hide. I keep telling myself it’s safe to come completely out from behind the bush. I don’t know why I hesitate. I can hear God calling, “Ollie, ollie, oxen free!”

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Can God Heal our Deepest Wounds?

By Eugene C. Scott

In the summer of 1998 we drove home to Tulsa from a bittersweet family vacation in Colorado: Sweet because Dee Dee and I had celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary with a trip to Vancouver, BC. Bitter because our oldest daughter had recently been diagnosed with an eating disorder, a cancer of the soul, and she was getting worse. My white knuckled grip on the steering wheel exposed the ghostly condition of my soul. I was lost. For the first time as a father I had no answer. The fatherly band-aids–wise words and solutions–I had utilized to fend off so many past crises proved futile against this devastating disease. We had gone to doctors, counselors, friends, and support groups; we had prayed, memorized Scripture, and read books; we had talked, cried, pleaded, and argued; we had blamed ourselves, our culture, gymnastics, and God; we had loved, hugged, and gotten angry. Still her cancer of the soul thrived.

So, we drove east on Interstate 70, in a minivan filled with fear and heartbreak. My every breath became a prayer.

God, heal her. Please don’t let this cancer steal anymore of her. Don’t let it take her life! Tell me what to say; show me what to do.

Miles of empty eastern Colorado rolled by as we played license plate games to kill time and the dread that rode with us.

Why was God so silent?

A couple of hours east of Denver I said, “Look, kids,” and pointed to the words “Trust Jesus” spray-painted on the cement pillar of a highway overpass.

“Do you think anyone is actually convinced of God’s love by that?” I asked sarcastically. “That’s not evangelism; that’s evandalism.”

At each overpass for the next several miles the same lime-green words “Trust Jesus” appeared. What a diversion. Instead of focusing on our pain and worries, we mocked silly Christians.

As we limped into Kansas, my daughter with the wounded soul moved to the shotgun seat. Everyone else was sleeping.

“What can I do, Dad?” she asked.

I shrugged my shoulders. I had no more answers and had to admit that to her. Her eyes teared up with disappointment.

Shortly after that trip, we hit what we thought was bottom: we placed her at Remuda Ranch, a long-term treatment center for eating disorders. In the midst of that dark time, a good friend invited me to a local Promise Keepers meeting. Before Bill McCartney spoke, a local man, one of the organizers of the meeting, was asked to share his testimony. He told a heart-wrenching story about his daughter, who was addicted to drugs, and how everything he did to help her didn’t.

I shuddered. This hit too close to home. Tears pressed, unwanted, from my eyes.

He went on saying he had been at a Promise Keepers planning meeting in Denver just weeks before. During that meeting, his wife called with news his daughter was in serious trouble. He left for Tulsa immediately, east on I70. As he drove, he brainstormed, outlining every solution a father could. His every breath a prayer.

I listened trying to hide my trembling and tears.

Then in the wastes of eastern Colorado, he related, he saw, spray-painted on a concrete pillar, the lime-green words “Trust Jesus.” In a heartbeat he knew God had spoken and instantly he rolled down the window of his van and figuratively threw out all his human plans.

“Jesus, not my plans but yours,” he prayed. “Only you can heal her.”

But in a few miles, he was back planning and problem solving. Then came another pillar. “Trust Jesus,” it shouted. Again he rolled down his window and threw out his human plans. Again he prayed.

I don’t know how long he bounced on this bungee cord of faith. I only know I was broken. I was a puddle. I was unmade.

“Jesus,” I choked, “not only have I not trusted you with my daughter, I ridiculed your attempt to coax me to faith.” I was the fool, not the person evandalizing I70, to believe I was a better father than You, my heavenly Father. I was a fool to think my puny solutions could accomplish anything without Your extravagant love.”

Imagine! To prove nothing is impossible to God, He connected the dots between two hopeless fathers, two broken daughters, two Colorado trips and a crazy person with a spray can.  Right then God poured fresh love into my empty soul and showed me He loved my daughter more that I ever could. In a gentle, firm voice Jesus spoke to my heart, “If I have the power to heal your daughter, and I do, I also have the love and power to carry all of you through this until I do. Trust Me!”

In his potent prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul reminds us that the best response to those relentless, hopeless situations is to “kneel before the Father . . . to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge.”

Only when I recognized the paucity of my problem solving, and let my aching heart drive me to Christ, did I begin to learn that the love of Christ could carry me through anything. In this case there was no instant healing, no five keys to happiness, no easy answer. But there was a deeper knowledge of naked, unadulterated Love. That Love has sustained us on a road longer than a thousand lengths of I70. While we travel, healing, in more things than eating disorders, is coming. And our knowledge of the width, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love grows.

P.S. Our daughter is now 29, happy, healthy, trusting Jesus, married, a mother of a two year-old, with a baby boy on the way. God did exactly as He promised. He did not snap magical fingers and heal her. Instead He walked this long road with us, showing His love is the deepest, widest, most powerful force in existence.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For?

by Eugene C. Scott

Have you ever found something you weren’t looking for? It happened to me a few years ago when I accompanied a nine year-old boy on a search for his lost glasses, despite that he couldn’t remember exactly where he lost them. I went only to quell my guilt for not searching when we would inevitably go purchase another pair. On the upside, this particular nine year-old was a delight to be with even when searching for a needle in a haystack.

We parked my truck near the last place he remembered having his glasses—a long, winding walking path decorated with large river rocks and landscaping bark. The boy had lost his glasses on the way to–or at–or in the universe near–the new skateboard park that was about a mile from our house. I knew the path well and was naively picturing the most likely places to search. But the path had only served the boy as a touch stone, a tether to which he loosely tied himself while looping, wending, and winding to the park. But I didn’t know that at the time so I clung to the path searching every inch of its pavement.

“I didn’t walk that way,” the boy told me shaking his head.

“Where then?” I shrugged.

He pointed off the path to the rocks he had climbed and vaulted from. I searched the bushes around those rocks. Next we left the path entirely and hunted around a statue of a flying horse he had investigated. Then cut diagonally through a parking lot. But even that was not direct. He showed me how he had climbed over the sidewalk railing and dipped behind the dumpster and sauntered through a restaurant (I asked them if they had seen his glasses) and out the back door that let us out on the path again.

I shook my head. His route was truly random!

Back on the path, we peered under every weed in the spot he claimed he had stopped to chase a garter snake.

“I bent over to look at it and I bet my glasses slid off without me knowing,” he said.

I agreed and engaged in the search earnestly. But we came up empty and continued by scouring every dink and dodge he took off the path until we finally reached the skate park.

All the while, we had a fun conversation about snakes and any other nine year-old stuff that came up. He had definitely not taken a mathematically precise power walk and our search therefore, was not systematic. I observed even now, trying to be serious, the boy didn’t so much walk as bounce, light and airy with his feet only touching the ground for the fun of it. He taught me the names of various skateboard moves and I saw the familiar walking path as if for the first time. We spooked another garter snake and marveled at how fast they are. We talked about likely fishing holes in the river. We wondered what fun things we could do with the $70 to $100 his new glasses would cost to replace, if we found his old ones.

Reversing the Apostle Paul’s meaning “I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child” and I enjoyed every moment of it. Being a nine year-old ain’t so bad.

Maybe that’s what Jesus tried to get us to see when he called the children onto his lap and told his adult followers to have a child-like faith. Maybe the “kingdom of heaven,” as Jesus talked about it and lived it, is more than a “straight and narrow path” defined by rules and systematic searches and time lines and well-defined adult perceptions and ideas. What if the freedom Jesus promised his followers is better illustrated (and lived!) by a young boy turning his search for his glasses into another adventure? What if our pursuit of meaning and Jesus himself became a fun and loopy path? What if we never find what we are looking for because we are looking in the wrong ways?

On the way back from the skate park, empty-handed, I had pretty much given up the search. I was not surprised. I had begun the search thinking I would not find what I was looking for (to paraphrase Bono) anyway. So, as I walked, I looked down at the ground only occasionally, just because I should.

Then, nearing the point our search had begun, I glanced down and spied my nine year-old companion’s glasses sitting in the landscaping bark folded neatly as if someone had purposefully placed them there.

The boy saw them too.

He squealed; his face beamed; we high-fived. We danced around as if we had found Jesus’ “pearl of great price.”

“I was just praying we’d find ‘em,” he said. “Jesus dropped ‘em right where you were lookin’.”

Immediately my adult mind found a more plausible explanation for how the glasses ended up neatly folded where we had already searched. I wish it hadn’t.

Eugene C. Scott writes the Wednesday Neighborhood Cafe blog.  If you’re reading this on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com. Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What Would Hillel Do?

Years ago, a friend gave me two tickets to a sporting event in town. Living in a family of four females, I knew interest among the most important women in my life in joining me would be pretty low. At first I thought of taking another male friend, but then my wife suggested, “Why don’t you take Josh?” (not his real name)

Josh was in the church youth group with my oldest daughter. Through a few conversations, I learned he grew up without a father. When I asked him to join me, he shrugged and said, “Okay.”

When we arrived at the event, I pelted him with questions. Usually he replied with a one-word answer or a grunt. After two hours, I was fairly exhausted…and I felt defeated because we were never able to engage in any kind of deep conversation.

Days later, my daughter told me, “Dad, Josh had an awesome time with you last weekend. He won’t stop talking about you!”

Wow, I thought to myself. I didn’t think our time together went that well.

Over the next few years, we attended an assortment of events together. From my vantage point, I never broke through the surface into the inner workings of Josh. But not long ago, Josh told my daughter that I’m the closest thing he ever had to a dad.

You and I can make a difference in a child’s life—even if we don’t think we’re making a difference.

In today’s reading, we’ll take a closer look at a child who was mentored—and who later became a mentor to a group of men who changed the world.

Over the next six days, I’m going to be taking a little breather from our daily conversation. While I’m away, we’ll have some excellent guest bloggers who will offer their perspective. I’m confident you’ll find their contributions more than worthwhile.

TODAY’S READING

Numbers 26:1-51
Luke 2:36-52
Psalm 60:1-12
Proverbs 11:15

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Numbers 26. After experiencing God’s judgment as a result of their rebellion and complaining, a census was needed to determine who was left. Israel was also preparing to enter the Promised Land, so they needed to know how many men were available to serve in the army. But most importantly, this signified a new start for the fledgling nation.

Verses 9 and 10 recount Korah’s rebellion. As we discussed about a week ago, this was an important moment in Israel’s history.

Luke 2:36-52. It might seem strange, today, for a 12 year old boy to travel apart from his parents, but the New Bible Commentary explains, “People traveled in large groups for companionship and security on the way, and it is not surprising that Mary and Joseph did not worry unduly about Jesus on the first day’s journey home.”

Already, we can see an intimate relationship between Jesus and his heavenly Father. When asked about where he was while his parents searched for him, Jesus replied, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (verse 49)

The description of Jesus in verse 51 is nearly identical to the description of young Samuel in 1 Samuel 2:26.

Psalm 60. The New Bible Commentary provides an excellent summary of what’s happening:

“David was in trouble of his own making. According to 2 Samuel 8:3–7, he caught Hadadezer of Zobah with his back turned. Hadadezer was busy securing his frontier in the far north and David opportunistically invaded the south. But before he could savour his victory, news came that Edom had caught David with his back turned and invaded across the valley of the Dead Sea. With the king and the army miles away, it looked as if the infant kingdom of David would perish before it was well begun.”

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Up to this point in Luke’s portrayal of Jesus, Mary and Joseph knew their son was special. Mary had become mysteriously pregnant. Angels had appeared proclaiming Jesus’ birth. Magi presented their gifts to the new king. Even the shepherds walked from the fields to commemorate the occasion.

Yet they were astonished when they discovered that young Jesus had remained in Jerusalem to spend time with the older Jewish teachers. Undoubtedly, he spent time with rabbis Hillel and Gamaliel (who later mentored Saul of Tarsus)—both of whom are well-known in Jewish circles today.

Two thoughts come to mind as I meditate on this passage:

God has endowed children with the ability to understand deep spiritual truth. While Jesus was God, he was also equally human. If Jesus discussed deep spiritual truths with his teachers, so can children today. I confess that for many years as a pastor, I regarded children as participants in the church who should be seen but not heard. Children—and not just adults—are born with a deep spiritual hunger. Television, cell phones, FaceBook, extracurricular activities, and video games will never fill that spiritual void.

We raise spiritual, godly children by bringing them to the temple. Obviously this isn’t the only solution, but bringing children to church is an important part of it. What we do with children once they arrive is equally important. Children were created for so much more than silly songs and Bible-based games. They were created for an intimate relationship with God.

Here’s where come in. Perhaps you don’t have children—but you can be a Hillel or Gamaliel to someone else’s child. You don’t need to know all the answers (I sure don’t!), but by taking an interest in a child, loving that child, and openly living your relationship with Jesus, you can be a Hillel or Gamaliel.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What children has God brought into your life with whom you can be a mentor?
  3. How can you pray for those children?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized