“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
—Zora Neale Hurston
You may recall that in the grand story of Scripture, a number of people tried to hide from God, to put distance between themselves and God, to obscure their sins from God, and to deny their connection with God. But hiding from God is a fool’s errand.
Adam and Eve tried to hide their nakedness from God with fig leaves after they ate the forbidden fruit. God still found them. Moses hid his face from God at the burning bush, fearing to look at God. God still called him. King David tried to hide from God, as well as the consequences of his sinful actions. God still confronted him. Jonah tried to flee from God and hide below the deck of a ship headed “away” from God. God still caught up with him. Peter tried to distance himself from Jesus the Messiah when called out for being his follower. Jesus still squared things up with him.
We humans do a lot of hiding. We hide literally when we feel physically unsafe and we hide figuratively when we carry shame and don’t want to be found out. David hid in both ways, hiding successfully as a fugitive from King Saul during his early years and unsuccessfully from Nathan the prophet after committing adultery and murder as king.
But hiding from God is a fool’s errand. “There is no gloom or deep darkness where evildoers may hide themselves.” (Job 34:32) “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” (Jeremiah 23:23) “And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
When we experience various failures in life, we may reach for all kinds of fig leaves to cover our embarrassment, guilt, and shame. Some will hide behind anger and bluster, some behind humor and levity, and some behind withdrawal and absence. None of these approaches will assuage our guilt or bring relief from our shame.
Psalm 32:2-5 offers the following prescription: “Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” In short, the Psalmist is saying, “Lose the fig leaves and tell God the truth.” I John 1:9 offers us this conclusion: “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” No fig leaves necessary!