When I was a kid, my friends and I played a lot of games together. Games like run-through, basketball, tag, and every year in the fall, my back yard hosted the Plastic Ball & Bat World Series. I can remember summer days when my friend David and I would play basketball on the dirt court in our back yard. We’d play to 100, counting each goal as one point. Yeah, it took a while to play the entire game, but time was what we had as kids. Sure, we played some inside games; Strat-O-Matic Football, checkers, and an array of board games like Monolopy and Sorry. My friend Mark and I would play Strato-O-Matic Football for hours on end. In fact, I seem to remember us playing a Super Bowl or two. Inside games were fun, but for the most part, we were outside kids. My favorite two outside games were “army,” (where we pelted each other with the persimmons that grew on my neighbor’s tree), and hide-and-go-seek.

When playing hide-and-go-seek in my neighborhood, we had dozens of places to hide. I remember once hiding on top of my neighbor’s house (who climbs on top of a house to hide?), but my best hiding place was next to the curb in the street. In hide-and-go-seek, the person who was “it” hid their eyes and sat on the porch and counted to 30. The rest of the group scattered, trying to find the best hiding place. As a kid, I was thin enough to lie next to the curb which was closest to the porch. Since we typically played this game just as it was getting dark, the curb was a place few would think to hide. I can remember the one who was “it” actually walking over me, without finding me. While the “it” person looked for the hiders, the hiders would look for an opportunity to run and touch the porch (home base) for safety. If we were safe, we stayed on the porch until someone was found, or until all the hiders were safe. Playing hide-and-go-seek as a kid in my neighborhood in Pine Bluff was great. My life was simple, safe, and good.

Who would have thought that hide-and-go-seek would still be part of my life today? Not only is it part of my life, I think it’s part of the lives of a great many adults. But this kind of hide-and-go-seek isn’t quite the same. It’s not about having fun, and the consequences are greater. The kind of hide-and-go-seek I’m talking about is a spiritual exercise and it’s certainly not a game. As followers of Christ, we often disobey God and then try to hide from Him. Without fail, God always pursues His children using conviction and remorse to disquiet our conscience. But I suppose our attempts to hide from God is something we come by naturally. After all, our predecessor, Adam, engaged in hide-and-go-seek with God in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately for Adam (and us) this was no game and it had serious and significant repercussions.

Here’s the story. God had created Adam and gave him the most beautiful woman in the world, Eve. God then gave Adam and Eve an extraordinary place to live. So grand was this place that it was called the Garden of Eden. It must have been a large place because its borders were marked by rivers. God then gave the couple dominion over all He had created. What was it like? “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). In this environment, God gave Adam and Eve only one commandment; one rule; one law whose breaking would bring devastation. Here’s the commandment: “And the LORD commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17). Remember what happened? Having been tempted by Satan, we read the sad story. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). And just as God promised, Adam and Eve died spiritually. Because of their disobedience, their relationship with God was no longer the same. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the Garden” (Genesis 3:7-8). Adam and Eve now knew sin and it produced a fear of God. Their attempt to hide-and-go-seek with God was no game and it didn’t go very well. “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself’” (Genesis 3:9-10).

Do you think God asked Adam this question because God couldn’t find him?

Me neither.

God knew where Adam was. I believe God was asking Adam to examine where he was in relation to God. Adam tried unsuccessfully to hide from God. I do the same. So do you. I’m not very good at it. Neither are you.

I am convinced we would do well to frequently ask ourselves this question. “Where am I – right now – in my relationship with God?” I’ve discovered that asking myself that question helps me in the obedience department. Paul believed this idea of self-examination was essential. In a broader sense, to the believers at Corinth, Paul wrote: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Trust me. Trying to win at hide-and-go-seek with God is a bad idea. God always wins.