So three years ago, we make a random reservation for the Kruger National Park. Twice we postpone and the dates are hidden in my calendar until suddenly they are now and we decide to politely excuse the boys from school and disappear out of life.
We’re driving through Schoemanskloof and I’m thinking how much I love to see God, revealed. Because God manifest – obvious – discernible – unmistakeable – that’s glory. Like Red-Sea-parted stick-turned-snake call-down-fire dead-man-raised kind of glory.
Yet everything about four nights in the bush is whispering, hidden.
It’s not just the foreign tourists who still, unfathomably, believe that when in Africa one should go into stealth mode. Strive to stay hidden by wearing khaki at all times.
We, too, are hidden. I’m in and mostly out of data coverage and my phone battery lasts three days. Hidden from the hum and buzz of the ongoing online life.
Creation is hidden. We roll slow on empty roads hoping to glimpse game crossing serendipitous only to melt again into thick bush. There are pools and new sprung streams everywhere and no need for thirsty herds to wander our way. And beyond the lines of tar and dust etched on maps there are vast tracts of veld – untamed, untouched beneath southern stars stretched uncountable – untangled brilliant in blue velvet. Animals quiet at twilight, unseen. Birds calling at dawn, unheard. Except by God. And only for his glory.
A woman is hidden. I’m in the bathrooms at Pretoriuskop and she’s there, dancing. Dancing soft and sweet with a mop. And singing. Singing all the smile and soul of Africa. I stop breathing. It’s unspeakably beautiful and she’s got talent like nothing you’ve ever seen on Idols and I want to sing back to her that these are the days of miracles and wonders and don’t cry baby don’t cry because even though you are hidden cleaning toilets surely there is hope? I’m trying not to cry – manage, ‘Hi. Thank you.’ And I wonder why God keeps so much – so much – hidden.
I tell Murray about it later – when marshmallows are braaied and small boys’ dusty feet are hidden in clean sheets – and we talk about how ‘the Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.’ (Deuteronomy 29:29) We talk about how there’s glory in God hidden. Glory in Elijah unharmed, unfound by a brook. Glory in Jesus slipping unseen through a crowd. Glory in galaxies measureless to man and glory in small swirling electrons unobserved.
And I think again about how obedience – our highest worship – happens in the hidden heart where pretension is laid low and only God sees. How maybe I shouldn’t always glory hunt under bright lights for big things because maybe the most splendid beauty, and maybe the greatest rewards, are in the secret, holy, hidden things.
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