“Where are you?”
God’s question to Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit has been playing on repeat in the background of my mind for the past month or so. I’ve read and reread Genesis 3 a bunch of times. I’ve written the question down in my journal. It hasn’t gone away. I feel like I’m hearing it more clearly and more often. And I’m hearing it in a much different way than I used to.
When I learned about the Fall as a little girl, I heard that question from God as an angry one — as if He was asking where they were to accuse and punish them. I mean, he did send them out of the garden shortly after this exchange, didn’t He? And right before the banishment, He pronounced a curse on them for their disobedience.
While those things are true, they aren’t the whole story. Not even close.
Between the cursing and the expelling from the garden, God clothed them. Adam and Eve had tried their best to cover their nakedness, but God saw right through them…both their ill-fitting fig leaves and their first of endless attempts to provide for themselves what only He could give. God making their clothes was a kindness.
This question to Adam and Eve was not asked for punitive reasons, but because it was God’s custom to walk and talk with them in the garden. He desired them. God delighted in who He had made and how they reflected His very nature. He enjoyed their company. Even after they ate the fruit, God still sought them out.
I keep hearing that question whispered to me. It is not the disappointed reprimand I once thought. It’s beginning to feel much more like a loving invitation and a new way to connect with God.
I’m not great at bringing the things in my head and on my heart to Him. I’m really good at thinking about them. And overthinking them. I even think about praying about them sometimes. My head knows that I can come to God as I am, but my behavior reveals otherwise. When I’m afraid or uncertain or angry or ashamed, I turn inward. I try to figure things out on my own. My guard goes up and I try to think through all the scenarios of what could happen so I can be ready to handle it. But recently, right in the midst of trying to get myself together so I could be still enough and quiet enough to pray, I’ve heard God’s gentle questioning.
“Where are you, Becky?”
God sees me and my less than effective methods of handling my own life. He is inviting me to come out of hiding. My prayers lately begin with answering that question. Telling God where I actually am and not where I wish I was or feel like I should be has been freeing and life-giving. It exposes what is really in my heart and it allows me to turn back toward God from wherever I’ve been. And I’ve been met, each time, by our pursuing God who comes after me even when I turn away.
May you hear the tenderness in that question and feel seen, desired, and invited. And as you answer, know that our God comes for us and rescues us again and again.
Becky Lehman is a lover of people, everyday adventures, and building community wherever she is. After 16 years filled with 7 jobs and 9 apartments in 4 East Coast cities, she is happy to call Richmond home. She enjoys being outdoors, cooking and grilling for anyone who’d like to be at the table, arranging flowers, and writing at beckslehman.wordpress.com.
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