Sally loved her Sunday afternoons with Ben. Her mother took care of the kids so they could have some time for themselves. Often they would go walking in the park or catch a movie in town but occasionally they would opt for peace and quiet at home. Today was a stay-at-home Sunday. Perfect for a discussion.
Sally made the coffees and brought them out to the verandah where Ben had settled for the afternoon. She put the cups down on the table near the book he was reading and ran her fingers through his short black hair.
“You want to know something Ben?” she asked as she sat down opposite him. It didn’t seem to matter that her husband was engrossed in his book. She had something she needed to share.
“Hmmm?” Ben asked absently, his mind preoccupied.
“Something interesting I’ve just discovered,” Sally added, leaning forward for emphasis.
“Uh-huh.” Ben’s attention was still elsewhere.
Sally sighed. “God’s favourite game is Hide and Seek,” she said nonchalantly.
Ben looked up from his book and frowned. Finally, his mind connected. Though the idea of God playing games didn’t quite fit into his understanding of the Almighty, he knew Sally well enough to realize she wasn’t being deliberately irreverent. He thought it best to humour her. “Really?” he asked, raising an eyebrow, “and what brings you to that conclusion?”
“You ever wonder why Jesus always used parables? Or why He didn’t just speak in plain language?”
“Ah … not really,” said Ben with a chuckle. “Wasn’t that just His way of teaching?”
“Yeah… but why? Why run the risk of being misunderstood? You know some people just didn’t get it.”
Ben thought for a moment. “Well, He did have some radical concepts to get across. Perhaps that was the easiest way.”
“Hmmm,” Sally nodded in agreement. “But He had so much to lose if they didn’t get it. There had to be a reason for taking such a huge risk.”
Ben grinned as he closed his book. He picked up his cup, resigning himself to the discussion and settled back into his seat. “Okay, Sal. Tell me about it.”
“Well,’ said Sally, beginning to show her excitement, “I was thinking about the parables and how there are different levels of understanding; and you have to dig deeper to get the full meaning of the story.…I thought that was cool, because it’s like finding treasure. Gems that are hardest to find are the most valuable, hey?” She paused a moment to check that Ben was still following. He motioned for her to carry on. “So when you find a deeper meaning in the scriptures that you’ve never seen before it’s really precious and so much more memorable.”
Ben agreed. He enjoyed hearing her speak with such excitement that her eyes sparkled.
She continued, “So it’s good to search for those meanings and we’re supposed to search for them. But I realized something else yesterday. I was thinking about how often God tells us to search for Him. He says if we seek Him we will find Him. It’s like …(pause) … like He wants to be found.”
“Because He’s more precious than any gem?” Ben added.
“Yes, and you know, sometimes He hides Himself deliberately to allow us to seek Him.” Sally paused, remembering some of those times when God seemed so distant it was almost unbearable and caused them to cry out to Him in desperation. ‘Wilderness experiences’ Ben had called them. Sally continued, a little more subdued at the memory, “There’s something else, though …” She hesitated, trying to find the right words. “Umm, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I’ve been thinking it’s like a lover’s game of pursuit and capture that God is playing. He wants us to pursue Him so He can capture us. What do you think?”
“Hmmm, that’s an interesting way of putting it, I guess.” Ben mulled over the thought for a few minutes while they sipped their coffee.
“You know Sal,” he said after a while, “I think there’s another aspect to this.”
Sally turned her head to one side, waiting for Ben to share his insight.
“Scripture says that seeking Him actually keeps us from evil*, so it’s important for us. I suppose God knows the best way to get us to seek Him. “Pursuit and capture” – I like that. But, you know, … it’s not really a game, Sal. It’s a matter of necessity… for us.”
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