When I was 6 or 7 years old and got mad at somebody, I used to stick out my tongue at that person. I made a mistake once and did that to my mother and got spanked for it. Of course, I did not do it again…that she could see.
After that spanking, if I got upset and felt the urge to stick my tongue out at someone, I would cover my mouth or go into another room, in a closet or under the covers of my bed so nobody could see me. When I did this, it made me feel kind of powerful. I could stick my tongue out at someone, and they’d be none the wiser, including my parents who were a major source of my irritation.
Then one Sunday we had a Sunday School lesson about the 3 O’s of God, His Omniscience, His Omnipotence and His Omnipresence. The teacher talked about how God was all powerful, and could be everywhere and see everything we did because He was right there. What really freaked me out was when she said we can’t hide anything from Him that no matter where we go, He will see us. I asked if he could see us in closets and under the covers, and she said yes. I thought, Oh, no, God has X-ray vision!
I was so upset to learn this. I thought I could hide things from God, and He wouldn’t see it. To find out that I was wrong, was overwhelming. I had no choice but to beg God for forgiveness. It was probably the first Sunday School lesson I ever had that made an impression on me.
Of course, as a child you think of all the stuff you did that you thought God couldn’t see in the closet, under the bed or wherever – anything from saying “potty words” to sticking out your tongue. I remember thinking that I was in deep, and I couldn’t do things like that anymore. I was careful from that Sunday onward for a while anyway.
As I got older, there was great comfort in knowing that God could see me no matter where I was. That meant He knew my distress and when I needed Him. That He’s there with me through the good and the bad. I don’t have to ask Him to come because He’s right here – always. He has the power to help me no matter what my issue is.
Hagar had a similar experience. She ran away from Sara and Abram. She thought that she had gotten away from all her problems to a place where no one could find her. But she was upset not knowing what she was going to do. I’m sure she was crying and scared. An angel came to her and asked her where she came from and where she was going. She told the angel about her situation.
He told her to go back and submit to Sara, and he would give her numerous descendants. He knew she was pregnant and told her to name her son Ishmael which means “God hears”. He said that God has heard your cry of distress. He also told her more about what her son would be like. From that moment on Hagar referred to God as “The God who sees me”.
Hagar returned to Sara and Abram as God requested. While her circumstances there were not ideal, she found comfort in knowing that God saw her and was with her. He was the same God who was with Sara and Abram. She knew was just as important to Him as they were because God sought her out and helped her when she needed it. Just like Hagar, we are important to God and no matter where we go or what we do, He’s right there and knows everything about us, and loves us unconditionally.
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. Jeremiah 24:7