Adult Bible Study

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“Search Me and Know My Thoughts”

My granddaughter Sophia and I play hide and seek together. Well sort of. She does the hiding and I do the seeking. Rarely will she allow it to happen the other way around. Hide in places too difficult for her to find and she gets frustrated. She hides were she can be easily found. I have to count to at least a million, which she understands as being just past twelve. It’s hard for her to wait even that long for me to come find her.

She hides behind the living room couch and peeks out. She hides in back of the bathroom door and looks through the cracks to be sure I know where she is. She hides her head under the pillows on the bed while her bum remains visible in plain sight.

“Ready or not, here I come,” I shout loud enough for Sophia to hear me. I start looking for her. “Where are you?” I call out. “I can’t find you.”

The suspense is just too much for her. She can hardly stand it for very long. Soon she calls out, “I’m behind the couch grandpa” or “I’m in the bathroom.” This time she is under the pillows on the bed and I pounce on her and we wrestle and roll around and tickle and giggle until she wants to hide again.

The Fun of Being Found
Hiding is a lot of fund. It’s more fun to be found. Sophia loves to hide but only because she likes being found. She loves to entice me with “you can’t get me” as a dare to chase her. She makes sure I can catch her.
Most people I know, children or adult, have these same tendencies to their personalities. They like to hide and to that they will readily admit. But they also like to be found. They don’t like to admit it, but being found can be refreshing, relieving, and mitigating.
We like to think that hiding is best. We want to be anonymous. We constantly complain that we don’t have enough time for ourselves. Too many people want something from us. They never leave us alone. We all experience those times when we feel we are being interrupted, disturbed, and distracted. Wee simply want to be left alone. “Don’t call me, don’t email me, and don’t ask me for anything right now. We are not immune to those vacation advertisements that promise the mountain retreat with no phone, no television, and no internet. That’s our hiding instinct self expressing its self.
The other side of our personality, however, just loves to be found. Despite what we say, we don’t really like being alone, isolated, or cut off. We have a deep seated need to be recognized, to make a difference, to know someone cares. Can you think of a worse feeling than to have your birthday go by and nobody recognizes it, no cards, no phone calls, no cake, and no “happy birthday to you.” You enter a room full of people you have attended church with for twenty years and no one looks up or speaks to you. You meet a dear old friend at a high school reunion and she can’t remember your name. We want to be appreciated, acknowledged, noticed, and remembered. Imagine playing hide and seek and you hide and no one comes looking for you. We like to hide, but we like being found even more.

Something to Hide
Most people I know who want to hide do so because they have something to hide and they don’t want people to know.
• They told a lie and they don’t want people to know.
• They are ashamed and they don’t want people to know.
• They are embarrassed and they don’t want people to know.
• They are afraid or scared and they don’t want people to know.

Is there anyone reading this right now who has nothing to hide? Is there anyone who has never told a lie, never done anything dishonest, never felt embarrassment, and never done anything for which they have felt a twinge of shame? I doubt it. We are all hiding something.

Some things are better if kept secret. We can say to ourselves, that’s okay, that’s the way I prefer it. We don’t mind hiding some things about our lives. Secrets provide security. But they don’t, not really.
You ask your daughter if she is abusing drugs. “No,” she states emphatically. “Of course not.” But she is. You know it and she knows it but she can’t say it. So she hides it and lives with the guilt and shame until it turns her against herself. She doesn’t want it to be like that. She wishes it were different. She wishes you knew and that she could tell you herself, but she’s ashamed, embarrassed and feels she has let you down. If only she could tell you and be sure you would still be accepting. She wonders, “Can you know and still love me?” Can she take that risk?
We humans just never know what risks to take. So we choose not to take any risks. But if only we could. How great it would feel to have that burden lifted and still be loved and still be accepted. Is it possible?

Being Found
Can you imagine a circumstance, no matter what you have done, no matter what the world thinks of you, that you will still be accepted? The bible testifies, if you believe what you read, that God knows when you sit down and when you stand up. God discerns your thoughts from, a distance and that even before you speak, God knows completely what you will say (Psalm 139). Scary, isn’t it?
But there is more. The bible also tells us that no matter what you think you are hiding, God knows. No matter what the world thinks of you. God accepts you. You don’t need to hide from God. You can’t even if you try. There is no reason to hide from God. God knows every hair on your head. Isn’t it significant and of ultimate value to you to know that the worth of each person, your value in God’s sight, is absolute. No if, ands, or buts.

God loves you not because of the contribution you make to the world, but in spite of it. Nothing you have to prove – unconditionally.

Readings from the Scriptures Psalm 139
Who knows for sure what was on the mind of the Psalmist, David can be an elusive personality. At the beginning of the Psalm, David appears to want to give into his urgings about God. It’s almost as if he is saying, “I have tried to hide from you, but it just doesn’t work, it’s useless.” Despite the misery I have caused you, despite my weaknesses (David had many); still you are there and won’t leave me alone. Later in the Psalm, David changes his tune. It’s as if he suddenly recognizes that since God will be with him no matter the circumstances, he might as well become a staunch supporter and defender of God.
• When the psalmist says, “Search me O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my thoughts” (vs. 23). Does this sound like an invitation or a dare?
• “Where can I go from your spirit” (vs.7). When and under what circumstances have you tried to hide from God?
• David implies that God had a hand in your formation “even when I was being formed in secret” (vs. 13-15). Do you think this is talking about a physical birth or a spiritual birth? Explain what you mean and talk about the difference.
• What can you glean from this Psalm that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus?

For Your Consideration
We spend the better part of our lives searching for relationships in which we can feel accepted, recognized, respected, and acknowledged. The paradox is that when we think we have found the perfect relationship, we immediately begin to back away. We become suspicious. We make unreasonable expectations. We are leery of commitments. We want to constantly test it. Eventually, through constant demands and expectations, we lose what we have been looking for.
• Which do you prefer, hiding or being found?
• If you knew that your daughter, son, spouse, or best friend was hiding something very important from you, how would you encourage that person to open up? Would you want to really know?
• Talk about a group or community you are part of that you feel is fully accepting of you despite what others think about you. What is it about that group that makes you feel comfortable?
• What frightens you most about intimate relationships?
• Jesus has much to say about making and maintaining relationships. Make a list of the most important criteria you can think of that has to do with making and maintaining a relationship. Does this come from the teachings of Jesus or somewhere else?

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