Hiding In Plain Sight

There's more going on than we know...

There used to be this old, falling-down barn that sat along the road we take to get to our local library. The thing leaned so hard to the right, I often wondered over the years, if it would take little more than a firm nudge to knock it all the way down. 

A few weeks ago, we drove past it and it was gone. By the time we saw it, the construction vehicles were scraping away the remains. Honestly?—it broke my heart. I have big love for old houses and barns, even the ones that look like they should be torn down—I think I love those the most.

I felt my heart drop when I saw the back hoe scraping away at the place where that old barn had clearly stood for so many years, but as I lamented the loss of this beautifully broken landmark, I noticed something just beyond the trees, behind where the barn had sat. There in the background, a house. A gorgeous, old, fading and chipping farmhouse, that, even in its current state, clearly was something to behold in her prime. She’s rough now, but you can see through that to her past. She used to be so much more. 

“There’s a house!” I called out to my kids who were chattering on in the back seat. They all turned to look as we drove past the field. 

“That’s so cool!” One of them said, which as exactly what I was thinking as well. 

“I didn’t know that was back there!” another commented.

And it was true—I’d probably passed that barn hundreds of times over the years and never-not-once, had I ever seen the house, and yet clearly, that house has been there over a hundred years. Until that moment, the lay of the land, the curve of the small forest and the barn had worked together to hide this aging beauty.

This morning as I drove past that old house, I thought about how many things are right in front of us that we cannot see. I thought about how narrow our scope of vision always is, even those of us who call ourselves dreamers or people of vision (ahem, 🙋🏻‍♀️). We get so used to seeing what is plainly in front of us that we fail to imagine there’s much else. 

I thought about how we do this with each other, how we look at the outside of others and determine their worth, or deny their pain because of what we see plainly:

...that person is wealthy, their life can’t be that bad...

....that person is gorgeous, how hard could their life really be?....

...that person is so talented, they can get whatever they want, there’s no way they have problems like I do...

...that person has a ton of friends, they don’t know anything about being lonely...

I’ve been guilty of this myself, imagining that someone can’t possibly carry the same kinds of wounds I do because of (whatever) gift, blessing, strength, funding, skills, etc. that they have.

But this is bunk. On any given day, we are only privy to a fraction of what is real. There is always more going on behind the scenes—like an entire estate, hidden in plain sight behind a dilapidated barn. 

In my grief over seeing that beautiful old barn torn down to make way for a hundred houses, I felt the gentle nudge of conviction. 

What am I failing to see because of my focus on what is most obvious? Who am I dismissing because I don’t imagine that they could have any real pain or understanding because their circumstances lead me to assume otherwise? 

This led me to consider the many ways I discount the invisible work God is doing because I’m looking only at what is plain in front of me.

We see loss. We see suffering. We see pain and grief and hurt, and we are tempted to believe that God is nowhere in it, that He’s in a Tahitian hut on an emerald bay with a Mai Tai in hand, letting all manner of destruction ensue, while He looks the other way.

 This is the lie that we fall for when we look only at what is plainly visible. God reminds us that He is always in our midst.

We need our holy imaginations stoked to remember that there is always more. There exists in our midst, an invisible realm where God’s Spirit moves, helps, protects, and guides— and we can’t see any of it—not exactly. Not explicitly.

Believing this of course, means that we have to surrender our propensity towards “knowing it all”, and accept that there is a reality that co-exists outside of ourselves. We surrender to the unmitigated ways of faith. We accept what we cannot control, or explain, because the Story is so much bigger than we give it credit for. It’s so much more than we can see.

I want to live a life that learns to see what is hidden in plain sight. I want to live a life that admits that things aren’t always what they appear to be, and a life that treats others as if they have another story behind the story, because they do.

One month from today, I will be heading to Refine {the retreat}, which is a space God regularly uses to remind me that there is always more going on than I can see. Our theme this year is Pilgrimage, and what I’m continuing to discover about this walk of faith, is that there are lessons we will continue to learn again and again. Lessons about the mystery of God, the hiddenness of real things, about surrender, and about the hope that comes with gentle conviction and growth.

May our eyes be open today. May we look in faith to what we cannot see, and pray for the revelation we need to live surrendered to the Mystery of God. 


PS: I’m going to be a little disconnected for the next couple of weeks as I prepare for Refine, but the next email you get from me will include a sneak peek at my upcoming book and all of the details about how you can join me behind the scenes as the book releases.

As always, I love to hear from you. Feel free to hit “reply” and tell me what God is teaching you, what have you’ve discovered hidden in plain sight?

With unending hope,


(Barn Photo by Jeff Nissen on Unsplash, House Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash)