Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9
When I was a little boy, my brother, sister, and I asked my father how God made the world. Specifically, having just moved to Colorado from Texas and living in Colorado Springs, we wanted to know how God made the mountains.
We were sitting on the front porch of my Grandparents home facing Pike’s Peak and my dad knelt down beside my grandmother’s flower bed, took his hands and squeezed a rugged line of dirt up into a small little mountain range. Then he looked up at us.
My little brother said, “Oh.”
God made this good earth and he built it in such a way that mankind could, not only survive, but flourish here. Part of that flourishing included giving us the mission or purpose to care for the earth and to have daily fellowship with God.
And then, after creation was complete and God made the first man and woman, He began to take these wonderful walks in the cool of the afternoon with them. Nothing speaks to intimacy, in my mind, then that imagery of a long wandering walk with God in creation.
From deep within the love and safety of that intimacy, our Creator basically said, “There are no rules here, save one. Don’t eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil it is toxic for your soul. You weren’t created to experience evil.”
Enter the serpent. And we’re told the serpent was more cunning than anything else in the garden. This literal serpent was a symbol of the Evil One—a perversion and intruder into the goodness and beauty of God’s world.
So, the serpent slithers up to the woman and slyly temps her. He does so by mixing a cocktail of a miss quotation and deception.
My friend Helen Presswood told me about a song she wrote called Satan’s Song about this scene and sent me a few lines:
Come waltz with me,
dance to my tune.
We could make merry
night, morning and noon.
God wants a puppet
to dance on His string.
I’ll make you a goddess;
you’ll know everything!
Come waltz with me,
dance to my tune.
When the serpent made his pitch, he literally said that if Eve would but eat of the sweet fruit she would be a god. That sounded pretty good to her. See, the sin underneath all sins is the sin of pride.
Our fundamental problem is that we want to be as gods. We don’t want to be made in God’s image. We don’t want to know God. We want to be God. We want to be the center of our own universe. And, tragically, in our effort to be God, we become alienated from God. When you and I try to be more than human, we become less than human.
As the story unfolds, Adam and Eve suddenly realize they are naked and feel exposed. They are feeling what we all feel when we realize we have seen our humanity for what it is and God for who He is—shame.
They run for cover.
Now the ancients, as well as you and I know, that shrubbery cannot hide humanity from Deity. But here is God calling into the dark of the garden, Where are you? This is the first sermon of God to a vandalized world. God comes looking for us before we even are looking for Him.
The response of God is not to rebuke us or incinerate us, but to come looking for us. Do you see the love and humility of the God who created all things, but stoops to come to us and feigns ignorance by asking Adam, Where are you?
Jesus told a sad story about two sons who tried to hide from their father. The younger one fled to a far country and hid in bars, bordellos, and pig pens. The older son stayed home and hid in the field, in the barn, and around the supper table. But both hid from their father.
There are always bushes close by in which we can try to hide from the One who calls our name. Theologian and author Richard Rohr has said, Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.
When we mask our cosmic loneliness with deeds that produce shame and guilt, God comes looking for us. God is looking for humanity, even when we are not much looking for Him.
God keeps pursuing us, even when we run from him. Even while we are hiding in the bushes of our own shame and guilt. God pursued us until Jesus of Nazareth became naked on a tree outside the camp to undo and overthrow all of our darkness, guilt, and shame forever.
We used to sing a song when I was a kid that had these lines:
Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling O Adam come home.
So, dear friend, may you see the tree of Jesus and hear God calling you—even when you’re hiding in plain sight.