Painfully Exposed

One afternoon while we were visiting Muizenberg, we drove down the coast, south of Cape Town, to an area known as Boulders Beach, which is famous for its penguins. I was thrilled. The only place I had ever seen a penguin was in a zoo and of course, on a movie screen.

We pulled into a parking lot and followed the trail to a rocky beach. As we’re walking I’m looking everywhere for the penguins, because I don’t want to miss them.

We rounded the bend in the trail, and I look over, and there are two penguins standing in front of a shrub sporting long curled beaks and tuxedo colors. Being Margaret, I shout out “Penguinos!” because I am so excited.

Looking further down the trail, I can see dozens of penguins gathered around the rocks near the shore, but I’m enamored with this one penguin. I slowly approach him, hold out my iPhone and snap this picture on my camera:

Here’s the interesting thing, he didn’t move. This penguin engaged in a visual standoff with me for several minutes.

I remember asking Hans, “Why isn’t the penguin moving?”

“Because as long as he stands still, he doesn’t think you can see him…”

As I sat in silence with these creatures, I had a God-thought pop into my mind that simply said, “You do this sometimes, too.”

It that moment, I realized that like the penguins, I sometimes convince myself that somehow God doesn’t see me. That somehow I, too, can hide in plain sight. That maybe if I stand still long enough or remain quiet, that God won’t see the portions of myself that I don’t really want him to notice—my sin, my pain, my brokenness, my vulnerability. That maybe God will pass by and I can remain hidden.

Yet time and time again in the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals that which is hidden. Jesus sees right through our layers of self-protection, our self-defenses, our desires to remain hidden.

Like the woman at the well in John 4.

Sometimes we have to come to terms with the fact that as hard as we try to hide, God not only sees us but in his love, he sees through our efforts to hide.

Though we try to empty our bag of tricks—standing perfectly still, moving excessively fast, or diverting attention elsewhere—God sees and exposes us.

But that exposure is always an invitation to healing, restoration, and wholeness. The exposure is not meant for disgrace but to create a work of beauty in our lives.