This week, Loreli Cockram shared from Matthew 6:6
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
"Your Father, who is unseen"- Jesus is not only instructing us about our practice of prayer, but telling us something about God. He is very intentionally telling us that that is part of who God is - unseen. Other translations say "Your Father who is in secret" or "your Father who sees," but it is indicating that it is all operating behind closed doors and, therefore it compels us to consider the intentionality of God’s hiddenness and what that means for us.
We tend to jump to conclusions about God’s hiddenness. Much of our conclusions are our attempt to project onto God from our limited human experience or understanding when we wrestle with his unseen-ness and perceive it to be his absence.
Can we get curious again? Can we consider (a) that an attribute of God that he is often invisible or unseen, and (b) that he desire us to seek him. We can presume therefore, that he can be found - let that lead us in to curiosity about God’s invisibleness. Let’s ask the question when we can see him, “Where are you?”
Four Reasons for God's Hiddenness
- We are literally unable to see God in all his glory
- In Exodus 33:18, Moses asks God, “Please show me your glory.” God responds, “‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’ Then the Lord said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’”
- Seeing God is a reward for the faithful (a reward for those who seek him)
- Hebrews 11:6 says that "without faith it’s impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
- Discovery then becomes a blessing of the believer.
- Intimacy with God requires an ebb and flow in relationship - wooing
- If you’ve ever read the Song of Solomon - it’s just 8 chapters - you might be struck by the holy game of hide and seek between lover and beloved in this book. And how it can mimic the dance of marriage, the back and forths of learning about each other, dealing with life, ministerying together. An so it is with God, that we would have such a heavenly dance - we are both pursuer and pursued.
- He desires that his glory be revealed in us
- Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
How are we to seek or see that which is unseen?
God is a self-concealer, but he is a self-revealer also. We understand that God reveals himself through nature and created things, through Jesus (the word and the body of Christ)
- Challenge your assumptions become curious
- Pray for the Spirit to open the eyes of your hears
- Confess your sins - those you know about and anything else that might be obscuring your sight
- Attend to those “secret” places in your soul. Are there barriers to seeing God? Unconfessed sins and habits that are obstructing your view?
- Remember the times you have seen God - bring them to mind as part of your disciplined seeking and combat spiritual amnesia
- Seek Jesus through his word and Body (Colossians)
- Build a regular spiritual practice of removing earthly blinders through disconnecting and moving into silence and solitude to gain a heavenly view.
One bonus point about reasons for God’s hiddenness: he himself has a love for those who are hidden. In fact, he prioritizes and favours the poor, the depleted, the lost, the hungry, the mourning, the hidden. He’s found less front and centre because he’s with those who are hidden. So if you are hidden, if you are in a place where shame is keeping you under wraps, remember that the Father who sees everything who is himself unseen, sees you. Be found.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.