“All the outs in free!”
We shouted those words so that our friends could hear from their hiding places: from under trees, behind laundry piles, inside dog houses, or disguised beneath a collection of blankets. We’d search for and find many of our chums, but there was generally one in our game of hide and seek that went undiscovered. Yelling the familiar chant let the outstanding hiders know that they could step into visibility without penalty.
As I think back to the frustrating task of finding someone who did not want to be found, it makes me glad that Jesus doesn’t hide from us. Yes, there are times when I feel I can’t find Him. He feels absent from my life, as if He’s taken a “hands-off approach” and left me to my own devices. As I wrote in my last post, the process of searching for Immanuel can feel long and arduous.
In these seasons, we must intentionally dig deeper to find the fertile soil beneath our clay hearts. It’s there that Christ remains alive, active, and ever-present.
We may weep and lament as we search for Him, but through the process of searching, we find. That’s when the joy comes. That’s when we discover fullness of joy in His presence. In the journey of finding, we often recall what we already knew. We find truths that we encountered before.
The process of finding helps us to not simply know, but to know again.
As we seek what is hidden, the process of remembering proves a valuable tool. When I searched for my best friend in our childhood game, if I remembered how much she loved dogs and tended to hide somewhere close to them, I could spy her out almost instantly.
By calling to mind—remembering—what I already know about Christ, I can also find Him more readily.
As I actively remember— things like His character revealed throughout the Bible, or the promises He declares in His Word, the blessings He lavished upon me in the past, or victories and freedom that He helped me attain—suddenly I can see His subtle fingerprints in my life. My eyes open to things that He is doing right now. I begin to identify ways that He is moving in my current trials and circumstances.
The Christmas Story
The story of Christ and His birth in Scripture recounts many who found Jesus through a process of active searching. They took the time and trouble to recall the promises and truths of God’s Word, which provided a type of roadmap leading to the discovery of Immanuel.
The wise men depicted in Matthew chapter 2 are believed to have traveled over 800 miles in their search for Jesus. Talk about a long journey! In the process, they examined promises of God’s Word and followed the star that led their way. When they found Jesus, Matthew 2:9-11 tells us that they were overjoyed beyond measure and fell to their knees in worship.
Angels revealed the Word of the Lord to unsuspecting shepherds during the night. Through this miraculous announcement, the shepherds were compelled to seek Jesus. In doing so, they discovered for themselves the good news of great joy.
Finding Through Remembering
We, too, can remember the word of the Lord and His activity in our lives, which will help us find Immanuel when we are compelled to seek Him.
Active remembering can take on many forms:
Present day memorial stones help us recall the Lord’s involvement and provision. Reminders like photographs of special, spiritual milestones call the Lord’s mighty work to the forefront of our memories. Embellishing and decorating our homes with Bible verses keeps our hearts focused on Him. We can document our experiences in writing through letters or emails to loved ones, journals, or even blogs.
Prayer and Meditation
Prayer and meditation allow us to draw near to God with a true heart, in full assurance of our faith (see Hebrews 10:24). After encountering the shepherds and hearing of their angelic experience, Matthew 2:19 tell us that Mary meditated on these things. She treasured the truth in her heart. The psalms are also filled with examples of recalling and pondering on the mighty works of the Lord.
Communion and Worship
Communion is a practice that, as the Bible teaches, is a specific act of remembrance. We remember the work of Jesus on the cross, the power of His blood, and His ultimate sacrifice.
Worship is certainly a practice that calls to memory the promises, freedom, and victories that the Lord gives. I love to belt out old songs that helped carry me through difficult times. I also cherish the new songs that quench my thirsty soul and help me focus on the Lord’s character. The shepherds who found Jesus praised God for the fulfillment of the promises and for all they’d seen and heard. We’re wise to do the same.
As we face difficult trials and situations that make us question, “Where is God in this?” we do well to recall that He remains near. When we seek, we will find Immanuel, God with us. We’ll discover that His promises still stand. We’ll learn to see God’s subtle fingerprints as readily as His indisputable miracles. And we’ll remember that He is with us always.
May God’s Word strengthen you today,