You and I don’t live in a garden, but we still have our covers. Oh, our fig leaves may be Chuck Taylors or skinny jeans and our branch cover may resemble the nearest Starbucks corner armchair. We use the camouflage of modern-day life to avoid being exposed for who we really are. You and I are not so different from Adam and Eve. Let me suggest that the ways you cover your own sense of nakedness and the manner in which you hide are some of the most important things to recognize about yourself on this road to transformation:
- We don’t answer the phone. Typically, the first thing to go when you feel guilty and ashamed over something you’ve done is communication. Sure, we have our excuses for hitting the ignore button—it will be a long conversation, I’ll call them back when I can focus, or if I just ignore it they’ll forget. But the truth is, as much as you might long for a chance to say you’re sorry, the risk of being blasted by the other’s anger and hurt is too great. You’d rather lay low for a while. Your relationship with God is no different. In fact, with Him, we have even more incentive to take cover when we think we’ve messed up. Feeling naked in public among other people is bad enough—but in front of the Almighty, before whom even angels fall on their faces? No thanks. Run. Hide. Above all: Avoid being caught alone with God in prayer, Bible reading, church or all of the above.
- Steer clear of people who might see right through us. Picture this: It has been a hard day and you just want to get home to a relaxing evening. First, you must stop off at the grocery store. Just as you turn your cart down the frozen food aisle, who turns in at the other end? The Little League baseball coach you promised to help with the team this year and then changed your mind—without telling him that. You broke your word and bailed, and now you feel terrible about it. He hasn’t seen you yet, trying to look small behind other shoppers. What do you do? Approach him and confess that you blew it and offer to make it up somehow? Maybe. If you are like most people, though, your first impulse is to pull a quick U-turn and spend the next 15 minutes in the cat food section until the coast is clear again. And you don’t even have a cat.
Here’s the “run and hide” rule when God is the one we’d rather not bump into: Avoid worship and maybe even Christians altogether.
- Give them the old “razzle-dazzle.” Sometimes, when running and locking yourself in the closet won’t work, the best strategy is to hide in plain sight. This involves not only pretending your offenses never happened, but making a show being the “cool-calm-and-collected-Christian” so that people would never believe you of all people could do or think anything wrong. Piety is an excellent smokescreen. Tireless service and “good works” make wonderful camouflage netting. Bottom line: Perform whatever you must to avoid admitting you’re a mess on the inside.
An Alternate Ending
Here’s where we left off in the story: Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness; they ran and hid. Then God got angry, kicked them out of paradise, cursed them (and us) with a life of pain and scraping in the dirt to survive—and we’ve all been suffering miserably ever since, with dying and going to heaven being our only hope of relief. End of story, right? Isn’t this more or less what most of us believe? It must be. Why else would we still be running and hiding from God like our lives depend on it?
No, that is not the way the story ends. God knew very well what happened. Yet before He got around to discussing the inevitable consequences of what Adam and Eve had done, He did something we typically overlook when remembering the story: He went looking for them. He could have given them the silent treatment, or let them sit in the bushes and rethink their lives for a while, or simply got up and left the garden for good. But He didn’t. Even after their brand-new sin, He sought them out.
“Where are you?” He said.
And all Adam could mutter back from his fort of foliage was, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Crazy, right? Adam hid from God. Even crazier—God knew where he was and didn’t leave him in hiding but pursued him all the more.
The mind-blowing truth is: He’s still looking. God sent Jesus, at great cost, to find each and every one of us—to find you. Not so that He could haul you back into court and throw the book at you. He sent His Son to invite you to quit running and come home again. The garden of God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance of you still exists. His plan, by the power of grace made possible by Jesus Christ, is to do away with “nakedness” entirely—and restore us to holiness in His presence. The proof of this was in the prophetic events immediately following the fall of man.
After they had defied God, He went to find them and clothe them. “The Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). How gracious was God at that moment to not leave them exposed, but to kill his own creation, a few wild beasts, and use their skins to cover Adam and Eve’s exposed backside with a sacrifice? He did the same thing for all of us, not by killing an animal, but by allowing his innocent son to be killed. He sought us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to cover us. All this displays the gracious invitation for us to be honest with Him.
The purpose of being honest with God: to be taken from our embarrassing nakedness and clothed in Christ’s perfection. That’s why it is worth the risk of discomfort and discovery: to have the promise of returning to blamelessness and a life of perfect grace. God’s looking.
“Where are you?”
This article originally appeared here.