So they asked the LORD, “Where is he?” And the LORD replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” 1 Samuel 10:22
This verse is so well known to me, not because I’ve read the story several times but because I’ve spent so much time hiding among the baggage myself. Saul, after being anointed king by Samuel, was about to be crowned the first King of Israel. The lots were cast and it was no surprise to Saul that he was chosen. Yet, he hid among the baggage. They actually had to ask God where he was! The text doesn’t say why Saul was hiding. But why does anyone hide? For me the reason was fear. The fear of failure, fear of being hurt and fear of rejection controlled my life. It was much easier for me to hide than to risk.
While looking up 1 Samuel 10:22 I stumbled across a sermon by Charles Spurgeon delivered on July 19, 1866 called, Hiding Among The Stuff. It was so profound and relevant that it brought me to tears. Early on Spurgeon quotes Christian in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress: “What a fool I am to be rotting in this stinking dungeon when I have a key in my breast that will open every lock in Doubting Castle!” Oh, how this resonates with me! How long I lived in doubting castle never quite sure about anything, stuck in bondage to fear. Wanting to protect myself I avoided deep friendships for years. Pouring myself into ministry was another way I hid. As long as I was busy I didn’t have to really know anyone or be known. It was safe. Then, one day I was asked to help with a discipleship ministry with a focus on healing. However, it required relationship on an intimate level. Of course I said, “No. It’s not for me. God isn’t calling me to do it.” Then, a couple of days later I experienced the discontent of disobedience. In contrast, God was saying, “I am calling you to this ministry and I want you to do this for your own good.”
Fortunately, I was compelled to obedience by God’s love. It’s been ten years since I said yes and He has taken me on a beautiful journey of healing and sanctification that I would have missed if not for His grace. It has not been easy or pain free but oh so rich and freeing. I am still involved in the same ministry with different people and in different formats and He is still teaching me to be transparent and unashamed. I am thankful for the work He prepared for me beforehand and for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to walk in obedience to Him for His joy and glory. It is still a daily battle to purpose to be out in the open, “naked and unashamed” (Genesis 2:25). The willingness to be used by God, to be vulnerable and transparent, even when it means suffering is to surrender to the Lord Jesus, denying myself and taking up my cross. It can be painful and yet remains the only way to true freedom, abounding joy and incomprehensible peace. Spurgeon’s closing words from the sermon follow. I pray they will inspire obedience as the Love of Christ compels you also.
“Now, Christians, let me say to you in closing, do seek, as God shall help you, to get away from that baggage and that stuff of yours. Get up! Get up from those valleys where the reeking fog of earth is always lingering—get up to those healthful mountains where the breezes of Heaven fan the cheeks! Get above the mists and clouds into a clearer and serener atmosphere! Ask the Holy Spirit to assist you in your spiritual mounting. Do not let it be said any longer that when a crown is ready for you, you are hiding away from it. May you be ready to be crowned and, being crowned, live as a king and a priest to the Glory of your Lord! May God add His blessing to these words for Jesus’ sake.”
Charles Spurgeon, Hiding Among The Stuff, Sermon #3322, July 19, 1866