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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

'Ollie, Ollie, In Come Free'

Growing up in southern Ohio, my summer days were filled with biking, swimming, chores, and reading. But evenings were reserved for Hide and Seek. The perfect end to long, lazy days, the cicadas coaxed us out to play as light lost its grip on the remains of the day. The game embraced a large slice of neighborhood where we took to our favorite hiding spots and waited. But hiding gets boring after a while. You begin to think. To itch. To cramp up. 

We took cover behind bushes and trees, often choosing the same familiar spots time and again. Yet hiding isn’t reserved for children or Hide and Seek. 

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. 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 3:8-10 NKJV)

In my adult life I sometimes find myself searching for cover. It’s tempting to shrink from our talents, responsibilities, or opportunities, and retreat from the dreams God has given us. We may play Hide and Seek with the truth, ourselves, or God. Unconfessed sin and lingering shame may keep us hidden behind the landscape. Sometimes we disappear in roles or relationships we’ve outgrown, taking refuge in others. Or we may find our identity in problems and struggles, seeking cover behind them. We hide in a variety of ways. While not all hiding is sinful, it is limiting in nature and keeps us from fully becoming the individual God created us to be.

When evening play came to an end, the seeker called the game by shouting, “Ollie Ollie In Come Free.” The phrase signaled to us that we were free to approach home base safely without fear of penalty. Upon hearing those words, we abandoned our hideouts and ran toward home base with mixed feelings, as another evening’s play was coming to a close.

A maple or oak tree served as home base in those days. But a lifetime later, I’ve exchanged the sturdy maple for the safety of my heavenly Father’s outstretched arms. Because of God’s loving nature, I am free to come out from behind the shadows and into the open without fear of judgment. When I came out of hiding as a child, I feared I’d be tagged or caught. As an adult, my fear is that I’ll be seen; naked, vulnerable, exposed.

An illusion of safety invites us to blend in with our surroundings. God calls us out from behind our hiding spots of doubt, fear, or vulnerability. He calls us to a safe place where we can shed our protective behaviors. And just as we outgrew our clothes and playmates over the long, hot summer, we also outgrow our old familiar hiding places. We grow into the people God created us to be, leaving behind our childish ways of hiding and seeking.

We’ve all played Hide and Seek. For some of us it was just a childhood game we played at the end of the day, or perhaps it has become a way of life. God continues to coax us out from behind our hiding spots. He reminds us that we are loved. We are safe. We are His! “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” God calls to us. “It’s getting dark. It’s time to come home. Ollie, Ollie, in come free.” 

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:16 NLT)

Copyright © 2021 Jann Mills, used with permission.

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