I feel like I’m invisible sometimes—well, maybe more often than sometimes. I’ve walked up to an automatic door and had it not open for me. I’ve tried to use a motion-sensitive faucet and towel dispenser in a restroom with no response whatsoever. And with people I know, I can walk past them, and they don’t notice me. Because I’m vertically challenged, I wonder if I’m just not at everybody’s normal eye level when I see them. Either way I feel invisible if not outright ignored.
A few times I’ve wanted invisibility to be my superpower, like when I fell when I got tangled up in my own feet walking down the sidewalk in a major city. Or when I drove the wrong way on a one-way street. (That only happened once and it was at night and truly confusing.)
I guess everybody has felt passed over or ignored or even tossed aside.
I remember the story of Abram in Genesis 16. God had told him and his wife, Sarai, that they would be parents although they had been barren all their marriage. Plus, Sarai was past childbearing age. And Abraham was old, too. But even though God promised them a child, they didn’t want to wait for that to happen naturally. The couple felt as though that they needed to move this process along because they weren’t getting any younger. So, they made a plan that Abram should father a child with Sarai’s young, Egyptian handmaid named Hagar. Hagar and Abram did have a son and they named him Ishmael who became the “father” of the Arab nation.
From the beginning, there was jealousy and disharmony in the family and so after Sarai’s son, Isaac, was born, Abram sent Hagar and Ishmael away to fend for themselves. Rejected and dejected, Hagar called out to God and He answered. And that’s when the woman said, “You are a God who sees me” v. 16 (El-Roi meaning “The God who sees.”)
It does give me comfort to read this account, for I’m not invisible to God. I know that. Hebrews 4:13 says “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer.”
Now there’s a difference between feeling invisible and deliberately hiding. You know the story of the Fall. Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she gave it to her husband, Adam, and he ate. Then when they realized they had made a huge mistake, they each blamed the other and the serpent for the sin. “…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden…” (Genesis 3:8) It didn’t work. God found them quickly.
The questions are: Can I hide from God? Can I be hidden from God? The answer is no on all accounts. Like Hagar who felt rejected and invisible, she recognized that when everybody else ignores her, she is still seen by the Creator of the universe.
Psalm 139 says,
“Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up;
You understand my thought from far away.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, Lord, You know it all.
You have encircled me behind and in front,
And placed Your hand upon me.”
So, yesterday, the paper towel dispenser didn’t ignore me completely, but I got only half a piece. That’s something.