Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hide Me Behind

*Disclaimer: The author of this devotional in no way condones the following unsafe activity. The story below took place in primitive, pre-politically correct times and is DEscriptive, not PREscriptive.

Back in the day when parents could buy kids BB guns and no one would gasp, my folks bought my brother, Mark, and me a pair of BB pistols. They were black, heavy, very cool looking to a nine-year-old boy, and when you pulled the trigger on those BB pistols, the BB sped out of the nozzle with the speed of -- well, the speed of a turtle.

That was the least powerful BB gun on the planet. You could aim it straight up in the air, pull the trigger, and never lose sight of the BB. If you kept your eye on the BB, you could even catch it when it came back down, and use it again.

That being said, Mark and I decided it wouldn't hurt that much if we shot each other. My memory may be a little skewed because Mark was (and still is) three years older. I'm thinking maybe it was Mark who decided it wouldn't hurt that much if we shot each other...since he was the more experienced marksman.

The BB pistol duel started first in the middle of our street. We stood twenty yards apart, drew our guns, and fired. We both missed. We took a few steps closer to each other and fired again. Missed again. I should mention at this point that my brother had a short fuse. His temper would flare quickly if something did not go according to plan.

Mark started running toward me like a madman. I shot him. He felt it. Then he was REALLY mad. I ran behind a tree for cover. I kept shooting. He was getting furious because now I was hiding. I don't think my laughing at him helped calm him down much either. He hid behind another tree.

After several unsuccessful volleys with us both hiding behind trees, Mark's anger left him and an evil grin crept onto his face. He knew what I didn't know.

I thought I was completely hidden. I wasn't. I was slightly bent over so I could peek around the right side of my tree. Mark was peeking around the other side of his tree. I couldn't see him at all. But he could see what was jutting out behind the left side of my tree. Yep. My backside. My behind was not behind the tree!

Mark aimed and fired. His BB pistol found greater force and velocity than it ever had before. That BB was in a hurry. The target was acquired. Boy, did it sting! It brought me to tears. I dropped my pistol, put pressure on my wound, and hopped around like my pants were on fire. Mark fell to his knees with laughter. I'm so glad I could bring him such joy.

I'm captured by the number of times I see people attempting to hide in the Bible. "Hide and Seek" was first played in the Garden of Eden with the first humans. Adam and Eve tried to hide behind a few leaves (Genesis 3). At least I was smart enough to get behind a tree!

They learned that they could not hide from God.

When Goliath challenged the Israelite army to send out their choice warrior, Saul and all his warriors scrambled to hide behind each other (1st Samuel 17). Saul, the tallest, strongest, most capable warrior of Israel hid behind his men. Then he hid behind a boy, sending young David out to fight the giant Philistine. David won that fight and many others. Saul lost his glory, his crown, and his mind.

Achan took that which was forbidden and buried it under his tent to hide it (Joshua 7). God knew where it was and led Joshua closer and closer to Achan. Achan tried to hide. It was not until Joshua stood face to face with Achan that Achan confessed. Achan never got to wear the garments or gold that he stole. He tried to hide himself and his sin, yet failed on both accounts.

Jonah tried to hide by running in the opposite direction (Jonah 1). God said, "Jonah, set your GPS to the east...Ninevah." Jonah went west...Tarshish. He tried to hide on a boat. God sent a prophet-hungry fish to fetch him. The intestinal gases of that fish's stomach caused Jonah to rethink the hiding thing. He agreed to go to Ninevah. But it wasn't long before Jonah was hiding again. This time, Jonah hid outside the city of Ninevah under the shelter of a plant and pouted. The type of plant is not identified. Maybe it was a whining willow or a sulking sapling.

The one positive that followers of God have been able to glean from Jonah is that there's no point in trying to hide from God.

But we try anyway.

We hide behind flimsy fig leaves of moodiness. We hide behind other people and point out their failures so that no one looks at ours. We hide under the tent of our pride. We hide behind weak arguments and excuses fueled more by self-pity and emotional wounds than truth.

Learn from all the above. You can't hide from God. He sees around the other side of the tree. He already knows. You're only hiding yourself from that which is your hope and remedy. It's like being in jail and hiding from the parole board. They are the ones who can set you free, but you choose not to appear before them, and remain behind bars.

"I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5).

There is only one place we all need to hide...

Behind the Cross
Perry Crisp

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