Do you remember that old time game of hide and seek? All the kids in the neighborhood would gather together, then we'd pick someone to be the 'seeker' and all the rest of us would dash hither and yon in hopes of finding that perfect hiding spot so we would go undiscovered until we heard the loud cry of "All come free!" hollered across the yards. The one who had the task of seeking had to explore all the nooks and crannies, under objects, behind them, and even inside of them. We'd scamper up trees, nestle back inside a bushy hedge, or scramble into an empty box beside the house. All of this was in the hopes of not being found by the one doing the seeking. I wonder how many of us think God is the one 'hiding' while we are the ones doing the seeking? We may even be at the point in our lives where we feel like we need to call out, "All come free!", simply because we have been seeking way too long and been totally unable to find what it is we are seeking in him.
God never hides, but there are some principles we can see in scripture that may help us understand why we 'think' he does. If you have ever read through the Song of Solomon, you may have observed this story of two lovers that somehow transitions into one of them seemingly pulling far away or almost 'hiding' from the other. It seems like this 'love story' kind of takes an unexpected turn from this totally close, intimate place of relating to one another, into this place of 'hey, where did you go' kind of scene. I think the thing God was showing us in this story is that he is the groom and we are his bride. In the first stages of our 'relationship' with him, we are madly in love, always together, sensing each other's presence almost continuously. Then we enter into this 'other stage' of our relationship with Jesus in which our 'sense' of his presence is somehow affected - we just know he isn't as close as he was and we wonder where he has gone.
It is at this point that we can either cry out in despair, thinking he has abandoned us and left us to fend for ourselves - thinking perhaps that we didn't matter to him anymore - or we could do exactly what he expects for us to do - seek him out! He hasn't hidden - he has moved a little bit further away so that we will come along with him - seeking new things in him. We might feel abandoned at times, like all we've known has been taken from us, but we need to be called to account for believing those feelings of abandonment. Yes, the feelings are real - but God intended those emotions to drive us into seeking - to get us up and moving again toward something we may not have ever experienced before in him. As it says in our passage today, God rewards those who come seeking.
Seeking can be done various ways, but at the crux of it is this kind of 'desperation' momentum that drives us on and keeps us looking. As with the hide and seek games of our youth, we know the clock is ticking and we want to find as many of the neighborhood gang as we can before the time is up. We sought them out with gusto - earnest in our seeking. God asks the same of us - be earnest in our seeking. He also asks us to be honest in that seeking. We come believing, but we are also totally honest with him about our disbelief! There will be times we come with more disbelief than we do belief - but that is okay because he wants us as we are, not some fancy, made up 'us' that isn't real. Seek him as you are and don't be surprised if the seeking takes you into places you have explored yet in him. Just sayin!