Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
Do you ever find yourself hiding from God? I’ve noticed this in myself. It’s like a reflex. And I’ve been struck by my reasons for staying “among the trees” instead of stepping out into the light when God calls. Because, well, it’s a terrifying thing to stand naked before him, stripped of every flimsy fig leaf of self-sufficiency, self-justification, denial, or blame.
God calls for one single reason. He loves me. This means he wants to be in relationship with me, and that can’t happen until I’m willing to admit exactly “where I am” and show myself exactly “as I am” in the pure light of his truth.
I have found that I can serve, I can intercede for others, I can spend time in praise and worship, but it’s serious business to come into his presence facing reality like this. Oswald Chambers says, “We would rather work for God than sit for one moment before Him and let the Spirit riddle us through with His light.” It seems we’ve all inherited Adam’s hiding reflex.
But when we hide, we do not get to walk with God in the garden, metaphorically speaking. This is a terrible loss of intimacy and communion. One thing we can be sure of, however, is that God never stops pursuing and keeps calling, “Where are you?” In other words, Where are you really at? Right now in this moment? What emotions and attitudes are here right now?
And in the garden of our heart, he waits to hear our confession. Waits to hear us utter the naked truth about ourselves.
You ask where I’m really at, Lord? Resentful about ______________________.
You mean right this moment, Lord? I guess I’m wallowing in guilt about ____________________.
You want me to name the emotion that’s here right now, Lord? Sadness. I am sad about __________________.
Where am I? You want me to say it? But it’s about You! Okay, um, Lord, I’ve not been showing up because I’m worried you’re mad at me since I’ve been doubting your goodness.
So the true and perhaps terrible things have been said. Maybe I averted my eyes as I talked to him, head down. And what does Jesus do? He gently cups my face in his hands and whispers, “Look at me. Really look at me. Look into my eyes.” And if I dare, what do I see? The expected burning condemnation, disapproval, anger? Surely not! No, his face is soft and his eyes speak such tenderness, understanding, and optimism about me that I gasp, astonished.
When I need correction, his eyes remain kind as he gently and firmly instructs. When I need guidance or help, his eyes show engaged interest in my problem as he offers an arm of support. When I’m crying, his eyes soften at my plight as he pulls me in for a hug.
Perhaps by now you’re saying to yourself, But we can’t see his physical eyes, and that all sounds so abstract and sentimental and is just a figment of the imagination. But consider, the garden of your heart is where the Spirit lives and helps you perceive spiritual truth. I have come to understand that if I don’t encounter Jesus exhibiting goodness, kindness, righteousness, and compassion (to name just a few of his amazing qualities) in ways that such imagery might suggest, then I’ve either wandered too far away to see him clearly or I’m unconsciously hiding in the bushes of my untruths.
Emotional honesty is better than hiding. When we’ve sinned, it’s the first step to repentance. When we’re hurting, it’s an exercise in trust. We must not let either our sin or our hurt or anything else keep us from responding to the Lord’s call.
“Where are you, my child?” Have you answered this question lately? What do you see when you use your spiritual eyes to look him full in the face?
Image by wirestock on Freepik