When I reflect on the days when my daughter was a toddler, there is a scene that still brings a smile to my face. She could not have been more than eighteen months old, but what intuition she had already developed. My wife and I were busy doing chores around the house when it dawned on us that our little girl had disappeared. There were no giggles or rattles of toys. Instantly, the mind of a parent begins to assume the worst. Has she drowned in a toilet? Is she stuck inside the refrigerator? Did she fall down a set of stairs? I ran through the house calling out her name, but there was no answer. As I continued through the house, out of the corner of my eye I saw two tiny feet sticking out from under our dining room table. I leaned down and looked under the table, and was taken back in laughter with the sight. She was sitting beside Jeanne’s purse with about ten chewing gum wrappers all over the floor. Her jaws were swollen like a squirrel preparing for winter hybernation from all the gum in her mouth. However, she still managed to say, “I wuv u daddy!” She was hidden, yet well aware of where I was!
Have you ever noticed, in many of life’s most critical seasons, the Lord appears to be hidden from us? Perhaps the Psalmist said it best in Psalm 10:1, “…why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble?” I’m sure we have each cried with Psalm 13:1, “…how long wilt Thou hide thy face from me?” The concept of a hidden Saviour may sound foreign to our faith, but “hidden” in this idea are principles that are the makings of great people of God. The hidden God during the middle forty years of defeat in the life of Moses only prepared the way for the visible victories in the last forty years of his life. The hidden God during Joseph’s years of loss and suffering ultimately produced a wealth of favor. While on the cross, the Father appeared to have hidden from Jesus, but oh, the glory He was preparing behind the veil of darkness. When the Lord’s tangible presence cannot be felt or perceived, that seems to be the time He is doing the greatest work in our lives. What hope and significance is there to be found when the Lord seems hidden from us?
The Lord appears hidden to develop our instincts. In John 16, Jesus is preparing His disciples for His death and departure when He says to them in verse 17, “..a little while, and ye shall not see me…” Having just explained the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is trying to teach them spiritual instincts to sustain them in moments of His obscurity. Just how dependent are you on the power of the Spirit of the Lord in your life? The answer is revealed when He is most hidden to us. Ron Dunn used to say, “What do you do when you are not sure what to do? You do what you KNOW to do.” That’s spiritual instinct! There are days when I walk down the long dark hallways of the church with full confidence of finding my way to a door. I do so because I have seen the doorway when the light was on. Spiritual instincts will trust in the dark what they have seen in the light. In John 12:36, Jesus said, “While ye have light, believe in the light…” I find it interesting that immediately following this statement, “Jesus departed, and did hide Himself from them.” His hiding will put to the test our trust in all He has shown us in the light.
The Lord appears hidden to direct our intents. In Mark 6, the drama unfolds with the disciples on the stormy see of Galilee while Jesus is alone on the mountain praying. As the storm reaches its peak, Jesus pauses among the trees and “saw them toiling in their rowing.” It was then that Jesus walked on the stormy waters. However, we are told he “would have passed by them.” In their panic amidst the storm, the disciples paddled rather than prayed. They wanted the shore more than they wanted the Saviour! What an indictment against our lives to think the Lord must hide Himself in order to prompt our pursuit of Him. A woman may wear a diamond cluster ring, but if one diamond is missing from the set, the absence overshadows the possession. In John 8:59, Jesus “hid Himself” as He passed through the temple leaving the crowd with mere rhinestones of religion. If Jesus is not the centerpiece of our lives, there may be shine and sparkle, but there will be no substance.
The Lord appears hidden to desire our intimacy. A scene described in Mark 7:24 brings encouragement to my heart: “He..entered into an house, and would have no man know it; but He could not be hid.” How deeply overwhelming it is to realize we serve a Lord who finds great delight in being found by you and I! When Jesus told the disciples they would not see Him, He went on to promise, “and again, a little while, and ye shall see me.” There is a faithful principle we all need to grasp, and it is the fact that while He does so often appear hidden, He cannot stay hidden from us! Just ask the widow of Nain, Jairus’ daughter, or little Zacchaeus. When our desire meets our desperation, the Lord cannot conceal Himself. He will always appear when we need Him most!
When the Lord’s presence seems to disappear, it is both frightening and frustrating. However, such times are necessary to deepen our trust and lengthen our walk. When water becomes scarce to a tree, its roots go deeper in search of moisture. The truth is, the water was always there, but the process of getting to it gives the tree strength to stand tall when powerful winds blow. Perhaps like Jacob in Genesis 28:16, we will awaken from the nightmare of His absence only to discover, “surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.”
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2006 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.