Do you ever try to hide who you are, how you feel, even what you believe? God asked Elijah, several times when he was running for his life, after he defeated the prophets of Baal, “What are you doing here Elijah? (1 Kgs 19:9,13). Well, he was hiding. As all of us tend to do when we feel some threat, real or imagined, to our lives.
The followers of Jesus are not immune to this flight response to life challenges. Peter hid his knowledge of Jesus. Moses hid on the backside of the desert. David hid from Saul. Even Jesus tried to get away from the press of the crowds (Matt 5:1, 8:18, 14:22).
Sometimes hiding can be healthy, indeed a gift of God. God hides us under the shadow of His wings (Ps 17:8), lifts us up upon a rock of refuge (Ps 27:5), and hides us from the strife of tongues (Ps 31:20). And even the Sabbath can be seen as a place to hide and rest up from the daily rigors of life.
But one of my sermons (Hiding Places) has been speaking to me. (Someone has said that if a preacher is repetitive, she/he probably needs to hear the sermon they’re preaching!) For I sometimes tend to hide myself from folks who may need me, out of fear that what I have to give may not be wanted, that I will be rejected. I may even try to hide from myself, from life, from God.
Blogs, for example. It’s easy for me to hide the light of my writing under a bushel, saying to myself that folks don’t really read them. But the call of God doesn’t depend on the number of folks in a church or how many readers flock to a website; the call is to be faithful.
Or playing my guitar for others. I did that recently and did so badly I wanted to crawl into my closet, pull all the clothes down on top of me, and hide. But the call of God doesn’t depend on being perfect with first attempts; the call of God is to be faithful.
And certainly my alcoholism, which robbed me of life for years, was a way of hiding from a world I feared.
And our work, or money, or food, or church, or sex, or sports, or religion…virtually any of the good things of life can also be a place to hide away, even from ourselves, even from God.
But there can be freedom and joy when we come out of dysfunctional hiding. Members of the gay community have taught us, if we will listen, the relief in “coming out.” And I will never forget both the abject terror and freedom I felt on Oct 10, 1976 when I first said, “I’m Madoc, and I’m an alcoholic.”
There’s an ironic dynamic in Christian hiding: if we allow ourselves to find safe refuge in God’s love in Jesus Christ, then we can be openly and faithfully who God created us to be and calls us to share with the world around us. If we experience our lives as “…hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3), then we can find the courage to come out to those who need us. Coming out can open doors to follow Christ openly, without fear, as God’s beloved, faithfully showing “…compassion, kindness, meekness, patience, and … above all love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:12,14).
“Boldness” is the New Testament word for such authentic courage to be who God made us to be and to love as He loves. Paul wrote, even from prison, “I will continue to rejoice, for I know … I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body. For to me living is Christ…” (Phil 1:18b-21). That is coming out of our closets into the light of God’s love. If we will listen, those who have coined the phrase “coming out” can be used of God to call each of us to rise up from hiding and to witness to the inclusive love of God, with boldness.
So let’s come out! To the authenticity and bold freedom and love that is ours in Christ.