How do we see(k) Him?

How do we see(k) Him?

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I’ve learned one good lesson from hidden image challenges. You know the ones where you are asked to see the hidden face? Once I do this one thing, I soon find the face.

Some find hidden faces challenging to see, others find them easily. I’ve looked at enough of these hidden face images over the years to know that to find what’s hidden, I must stop looking for it and almost de-focus my eyes from whatever the dominant image is. Only then does the hidden image become clear to me. When I strain to see it, the hidden image remains undetected.

Is there a spiritual lesson in this? Can we sometimes look too hard to find God? Do we have to stop squinting for Him and de-focus our anxious searching? What happens when we simply relax for a few moments in silence and consent to being in the presence of God already? He’s everywhere, we know. What if we stop looking and take a few moments to be in His presence? Is that when we will find Him? Is that when He comes into focus?

A tiger photo disguised one recent image of the hidden face challenge. “The hidden face is nothing compared to that gorgeous tiger,” one of my friends told me.

I think that’s part of the challenge of some images or idols we keep looking at. The tiger or image is gorgeous. That’s all I want to see. Perhaps therein lies the lesson: we have to be willing to take our eyes from what we enjoy looking at, where we find pleasure and beseek the hidden faceauty, where we think we know a person or thing we see, in order to be able to see the image of God right before our eyes.

We Look But We Don’t See. Where are you, Lord?

How many times do we hear this? From ourselves? From others?

In order to serve our neighbors and love them as Jesus taught us (see Matthew 22:39) it helps to first “see” them. When grace helps us trully see a person, we no longer go through the motions of serving them. Compassion softens our every gesture and glance.

This simple hidden image exercise helps us learn (again) how the poor, the immigrants, the abused, the elderly, the handicapped, the sick, and the homeless remain invisible in society. We glance away, we skip the news stories about them, we ignore the bruises or the person in the wheelchair. We choose not to look under the viaducts or bushes or dilapidated front porches or burquas to see the poor, the homeless, the Muslim.

We look but we don’t see how God remains unseen by us, too. We don’t want to take our eyes off the things of this earth long enough to see Him in His creation and in one another. Although Jesus said “I am with your always,” we constantly complain that we can’t see Him. “How do we know He’s there?” we ask.

Are we really looking? Is the image we seek blocking our ability to see Him everywhere?

When I listen to the gospel readings at Mass, I often think, How like the Jews in Jesus’ time we often behave. Jesus stood before them daily, worked countless miracles before their eyes, gave them endless descriptions of His Father and heaven, but they wanted to see the tiger – in their case, an image of the Messiah they imagined in their minds who looked and acted nothing like Jesus – and therefore, couldn’t see beyond Jesus’ skin, beyond His earthly mother and foster father. His human form wasn’t the face for which they were looking.

Even though they saw with their own eyes, many of them, they couldn’t see Him for who He was.

My Mother.

My mother loved tigers. She had several pictures of them by her desk and on her fridge. We’d go to Out of Africa Wildlife Park near her home in Arizona so she could sit and watch their mesmerizing faces and powerful paws pad along the side of their fenced habitat.

When I first looked for the image of the hidden face in this tiger image above, I didn’t want to pull my eyes very far away from the tiger’s face to find it. I searched for something small in the fur above his eyes. As my eyes scanned the image, the knowledge that my mother loved this creature triggered emotions. Memories flipped across my mind’s eye.

We look but we don’t see sometimes because we’re thinking of other things. Electronic images and sounds work like the tiger to distract us from being present in the now of this moment, from seeing someone who perhaps needs our help and doesn’t know how to ask for it. He or she may look fierce or strong or powerful as a tiger, and that’s all we see. When we seek God regularly, our attentiveness to Him gives Him the chance to pour grace into us so that spiritual senses open. We suddenly see people with the gift of knowledge or understanding.

In every moment.

Once you see the face within the image of the tiger, it’s hard to keep your eyes off it.

I’ve concluded it’s the same when the Holy Spirit bestows His grace upon us to see God in all things. It’s hard to keep our eyes off God when His grace opens our eyes to see Him hidden everywhere.

seek God with an open mind and open heart

I’ve learned that as scary as it feels, God wants us to open our heart to Him. When we do, the transformation we read about in the gospels takes place. Fear is useless; what is needed is trust. Suddenly, grace makes it easy to see Him everywhere.

He hides in plain sight. Like adolescents, we think we know better. We think we know how to look. We’ve opened our ears, we tell ourselves, we’re listening. Speak, Lord! But do we listen any better than a two-year-old or an adolescent with sighs and exasperated looks? Do we issue a few words of prayer and then stomp off in anger, frustration, or irritation at not hearing what we want to hear? When did you last sit in silence and open your heart to the One who loves you?


When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

Psalm 27:8 NKJV


I love those who love me,

Woman at the Well by Carl Heinrich Bloch

And those who seek me diligently will find me.

Proverbs 8:17-19 NKJV


Click here for all scriptural promises for those who seek God.




About Chris Manion

The parable of the talents drives Chris Manion to keep sharing what God offers her. God’s joy and compassion shows in her award-winning memoir, God’s Patient Pursuit of My Soul which she wrote while rearing two children and running a home-based multi-million dollar business. She speaks about trusting God and how to hear His voice. She's a musician, loves to laugh and eat M&Ms, and teaches children of all ages. Visit her website for more info.


  1. Loved this post, Chris. Great insight. I have to admit I hate those hidden faces things that pop up on Facebook. They hurt my eyes. 🙂

    • Thanks, Peg. I used to hate them, too. But as in everything, there’s a lesson if we’re open to learn it. I mostly have noticed that which I resist against holds the greatest lessons for me. Can you relate?


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