THERE IS NOTHING IRREVERENT, I think, in comparing man's search for God to a game of hide-and-seek. A child's games with its father, all the skill and foresight on the one side, al the romance and excitement on the other! When you read in the Old Testament about almighty God making a covenant with men, your sense of the fitness of things is outraged; how is it possible, considering what he is, that he should make a bi-lateral treaty with his children, he with his own income, they with nothing but the pocket-money he allows them; and what complicated transactions take place, in make-believe! And so it is with this game of hide-and-seek, that goes on all through the centuries, that goes on in every man's life from the cradle to the grave.
Why is it that God, who so loves us, makes himself so distant from us, so difficult to find? Dare we say it? - it is part of the rules of the game. He will make himself difficult to find, so that when we do find him, the shock of triumph may be something unexampled in our experience. Why does man, whose heart is made for God, and cannot find rest until it rests in him, yet spend long days, long years of his life, may be, trying to run away from God, to avoid his scrutiny? Once more, it is part of the rules of the game; not that we should hide from him, but that we should be able to hide from him ...
And then, in the fullness of time, God changed his hiding-place. Suddenly, while all was quiet around, with the deep stillness of a winter night, he came and hid in a little country town, came and hid in a manger, came and hid in the form of man. Not quite so silently but he betrayed himself; just a movement among the stars, just the brush of angels' wings, was enough to raise the hue and cry among a few searchers, shepherd folk with their keen ears, stargazers with their sharp eyes. And so the hunt started afresh: Tell us, where is he born, the King of the Jews? The question, repeated to one passer-by after another, begins to sound like the chorus of some children's game. What, this tumble-down house in a back street, this draughty cellar underneath it - it's no good looking in there! He wouldn't hide in a place like that! And then the door opens, and a woman stands there, a finger pressed to her lips; our Mother, come out to help in the search. "Yes, he's in there; but come in quietly; he's asleep." The God who does not dwell in temples made with hands, asleep in there! The God who neither sleeps nor slumbers, watching over Israel, in there asleep!
- Ronald A. Knox