When our kids were little, one of their favorite games was Boogeyman.
Here's how it worked. All six children went into a room where they counted to 25. During that time I would hide somewhere in the house. After the 25-count was up, the kids would come searching for me. Just before they discovered my location the Boogeyman (me) would jump out, give some menacing growl, and scare the living daylights out of them. The kids loved it!
At times I would hide particularly well. Honestly, I could put an escaped prisoner to shame. On those occasions, despite their best attempts, the search party came up empty. When that happened I would hear one of them call out, "Give us a sound please!" That cry for help meant they wanted a little sound from me--a hoot, a cough, a knock on the wall--anything that would give them a clue as to my whereabouts. Because once they had that tip, they had me.
Do you ever feel like you are playing Boogeyman with God? I do! At times it seems God is hiding. On those days, I want to say, "Give me a sound please!" I just need a little sign that tells me that he is really there.
Israel understood this feeling. In Psalm 80, Asaph is lamenting that God seems to be hiding his presence, his power, and his blessing from his covenant people. Three times the psalmist pleads with God for "a sound."
- Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:3)
- Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:7)
- Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Psalm 80:19)
What child doesn't brighten under the smiling face of his father, his mother, a teacher, or a coach? Think about that for awhile and you can imagine why Israel longed to stand under the beaming countenance of God. In fact, the prayer of blessing that God taught his priests to pray over Israel was for God's face to shine down upon them (Numbers 6:22-27).
Thinking about Boogeyman reminded me that sometimes it seems like God hides. Psalm 80 reminds me that others feel that way too. It also reminds me how badly I need the face of God to shine down upon me. So today, with Asaph, I pray, "O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine!" I need your presence, I need your power, and I need your peace.
If you want to dig deeper: If you want to discover more about the importance of having God's face shine on you, read Psalm 67, or Psalm 4 (paying particular attention to verse six). Our church is living in the Psalms this Advent Season. To hear this week's message from Psalm 80, Waiting With A Hurting Heart, click here.