I am Carolyn Pflibsen, pastor, serving together with Pastor Steve Olson at Gethsemane Lutheran, Dassel. I’ve served in five other Lutheran congregations in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota before beginning my call at Gethsemane in mid-June.
When I was a little girl, my older brothers would occasionally let me play hide-and-seek with them. Of course, since they were older, they knew all of the easy hiding places in our house the ones that I would think of because I was less experienced than they. That usually meant that I was the first one found.
One place I liked to hide was in the closet that opened from the kitchen and went under the stairs leading to the second story. I had hidden there many times, and of course, I had been found there many times, as well. One time, however, the game went a little bit differently for me.
I opened the closet door, and quietly closed it behind me. I was in complete darkness, but I wasn’t afraid this was the coat closet, after all. I was determined, however, not to be found, or at least, not to be the first one found.
So, I pressed back farther and farther into the closet. Soon, I was surrounded by jackets and sweatshirts, coats and boots, scarves and mittens.
I waited quietly. Soon, I saw the door open, and the brother closest to my age looked in, taking a moment to scan the closet.
The door closed! He hadn’t seen me! Still I waited. I knew he might come back. I knew if I waited until he called, “all ye all ye in free!” I would win the game.
I don’t know how long I was in the closet. I do know that it seemed like a very long time. It was completely dark I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. Although I had played around a bit with the coats and boots, mittens and scarves, making a “nest” for myself back there, I was starting to wonder if my brothers had forgotten about me.
I decided it was time to head out and see what was happening. To my utter terror, I got turned around, and couldn’t find my way out of the closet! No matter which way I turned, I couldn’t find the door.
I began to cry, quietly at first, but with increasing volume, until I was wailing at the top of my lungs.
At that point, my oldest brother opened the door and started to dig through the jackets and sweatshirts, the coats and boots, the scarves and mittens. It didn’t take him long to find me. He picked me up and carried me out into the sunlit dining room, where the others quickly gathered when they heard him call out “found her!”
The one who had been “it” had indeed called the “all free” when he had found the others, but couldn’t find me. I hadn’t heard it. My own determination to hide and not be found, coupled with the “sound-proofing” of all of the things in the closet, had kept me from hearing that call. My brothers had started looking for me long before they heard me crying, probably even before I realized just how I lost I was.
So it is with us. Sometimes we may be deliberately “hiding” from God. We don’t want to be found, we don’t want to be brought back into the light. We like playing in the dark. Other times the noise of the world or the events, situations, and circumstances in our lives keep us from hearing God call to us.
Either way, God comes looking for us even before we cry out for help. Jesus God in human form enters into our darkness, digs through the debris in our lives and brings us out into the light to be surrounded by the care and comfort of our brothers and sisters in faith.
“For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)