Question 020.  

If God wants me to find him, why does he play hide-and-seek with me?

… simply beginning the search is, to a certain extent, already to have begun to bridge the gap between God and ourselves.  It enables us to enter into the mind of God, and from that point of vantage to contemplate God’s work and the mysteries of faith.  To arrive at this view of reality, the search has to begin, which entails shedding the skin of human wisdom and prudence.  These steps in God’s direction, the search for him, are what occasion the Holy Spirit’s illumination for, Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God…  The search for God, then, has the function of transforming our minds, which, in turn, transforms our hearts.

from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger.


The difficulty in “finding the Hidden God” is twofold: Firstly that God transcends the world, not in it nor of it, but over it and through it.  Man’s wisdom only pertains to created things whether bodily, for he has a body, or spiritual, for he has a soul.  Therefore, human wisdom concerning God and His mysteries is limited to saying what is not: of who God is not, of where He is not, of what He is not about, etc.  Who God is, where He is, and what His will is, are things beyond the positive affirmation of human wisdom.  They are mysteries in the true sense of the word.  Secondly, sin, man’s turning his back upon God, has so damaged man’s capacity to arrive at true human wisdom.  Sin causes man to search for God in creation, identifying Him as such, and further to be estranged from the Hidden God who transcends all.  From this vantage point, it is not that God is hiding Himself, but rather that man has blinded himself.  God is there present, man refuses to look. 

To seek God, is to seek to be illuminated by the Divine Light.  It is to let go of trying to positively define God by human wisdom (reducing Him to an ideology) and to rather humbly wait for Him to reveal Himself.  Man knows that he is meant for God, that his heart is restless until He rests in him as a person rather than held as a human cognition.  As man purifies his heart and seeks God in humility, he will grow accustomed to the Divine Light and the Spirit of God will come to his soul, illuminating it, transforming the functioning of man’s soul, mind, faculties, and life. This is the function of grace.  Positive knowledge of God comes from God’s own self-revelation of Himself.  Whether outwardly amongst men or inwardly in man’s own soul, it is the same: the self-gift of God of Himself to man that man might know and be possessed by God; Emmanuel, He who wishes to pitch His tent amongst man, and espouse Himself to each.  


Adam and Eve Try to Hide From the Sight of God, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1860