My son, Jason, is four -and-a-half and loves to play hide-and-seek. Sometimes he hides, but usually the game involves hiding my cell phone. Unfortunately he doesn't yet understand the object of the game. He makes me close my eyes—that much he gets. First of all, he always hides my phone in the same place: on the carpet, in plain sight. No matter how many times we play, he always puts my phone on the carpet. When I open my eyes, I know my phone is on the carpet, but I'll pretend like I don't see it. I'll look on the sofa, or under the table. It's my way of trying to teach him what the point of the game really is. What I've ended up teaching Jason is that his father is completely stubborn, because the moment I look somewhere else for the phone he says, "No, Daddy. The phone isn't there. It's on the carpet, silly goose." And then he rolls his eyes at me. There's nothing like having your intelligence insulted by a four-year-old.
I've been trying to show Jason that the fun of hide-and-seek is the seeking. But for Jason, no matter what I try, the fun part is always the finding.
God wants us to seek him. But, like Jason, he understands that the real joy is not in seeking, but in finding. He wants to be found. God has not intended the Christian life to be an impossible hunt for an elusive God that requires enormous faith. Quite the contrary. The Christian life is a simple walk to a welcoming God that requires only child-like faith.
The story that best illustrates our God who wills to be found is the parable Jesus tells of the lost son in Luke 15. In the story the son rejects and abandons his father to live selfishly and wildly in a distant country. When he sees how foolish he's been, he decides to return home, to seek his father. Expecting his father to be furious with anger, the son is met with a surprise. When the father sees his son at a great distance, he does not wait for him to reach the house. Instead, the father, full of joy that his son has returned, runs out to meet him on the road, embraces him, kisses him, and is overjoyed to have his son home again.
This is the image Jesus presents to us of our heavenly father's love. It is the image of a God who wants to be found, the God James says will draw near to us if we draw near to him. He is the God who stands at the door and knocks, and is prepared to come in and eat with anyone who opens the door. We are called to seek the God who wants to be found. This should be our goal for us all Christians to intentionally seek the God who is passionately seeking us.