True love cannot be coerced. We love our children and we want them to love us. We cannot, however, force them to do so. When we give our kids direction and ask them to accept this direction as a reflection of their love for us, we must step away and give them the freedom to respond (or rebel) freely. If we are “ever-present,” their response will be coerced; they will behave in a particular way not because they love us, but because they know we are present (and they fear the consequence of rebellion). If God exists, it is reasonable that He would remain hidden (to some degree) to allow us the freedom to respond from a position of love, rather than fear.
Love requires a certain amount of trust; we must trust the person who loves us has our best interest in mind, even in times of doubt. There are occasions when trust requires us to accept something as true, even though we can’t immediately see this to be the case. In essence, trust often requires “hiddenness” on the part of the “lover” if love is to be confident, powerful, and transformational.
Love does, however, require sufficient evidence. While we may not want to coerce our children, we do need to give them sufficient reason to believe we exist, and that we support and love them. While many nonbelievers may deny there is any evidence for the existence of God, the natural world has provided us with sufficient (albeit non-coercive) evidence God exists. We have the ability, however, to deny this evidence if we choose.
In the end, we do need to show our children our promises have been reliable and their love and trust in us has been well placed. Even though we may have to be “hidden” at times in their lives, at the end of the day, love requires us to make a visible response. The Christian worldview maintains that God will respond visibly at “the end of the day.” While He may sometimes seem “hidden,” He will ultimately be evident to all of us.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they [we] are without excuse.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”