WHERE ARE YOU?
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and ate, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he ate. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves things to gird about. And they heard the voice of the LORD God, walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam and said unto him, “Where art thou?” And he said, “I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” Genesis 3:6-11
That’s the first question God ever asked anyone. And, to me, it’s really interesting. A very compelling question and worth closer, more careful examination.
The first thing that occurred to me is this: God didn’t really need to ask the question in the first place. If He’s ‘omniscient’ (knows everything), He surely did not need to ask Adam or anyone else about anything. So it seemed to me that He must have been asking the question for Adam’s benefit, not His own.
Holding that thought for a moment, if I were asked the same question, God would expect me to be honest with myself about where I am. If we’re going to have a conversation, wouldn’t that be a way for God to begin it? Remember, we began this venture wondering what it would be like for God to speak. Out loud? To us today, here and now? And I wondered what he might say and concluded that He might begin a conversation by asking us the same question He asked Adam.
The question is certainly NOT limited to geography. “Where” we are in time and space does not ever seem to be as important to God as “where” we are, speaking of things which are spiritual and eternal.
Let’s think about that further. Do you suppose the concern God had that morning in the Garden was Adam’s whereabouts spiritually? You know what I mean. “Why are you hiding, Adam?” Where are you in terms of your growth and service in the Kingdom of God? I know some people who haven’t moved an inch in years. They are still at the entrance to the Kingdom, in a manner of speaking. They are exactly where they were when they first began their spiritual journey. They’ve run too long in one place. They’re like airplanes which taxi back and forth along the runway, for years, and never become airborne!
You probably know people who’ve been Christians for twenty, thirty years or more. . . and they’re still spiritual infants! Their growth stagnated at about the time they entered the Kingdom of God. Adam, where are you? Doesn’t the question cause you to think past what is immediate and obvious? Where am I? Where are you?
Others I know have been edging toward the exit. Discouraged. Disappointed in others or in themselves. Ready to throw in the towel. I can only imagine how Adam must have felt that day. He’d failed. He knew it and felt guilty, and embarrassed, and ashamed and afraid. Peter later knew how that felt, and after his fiasco and Jesus’ crucifixion, he was ready to just “chuck it all.” “I’m going fishing,” he said. Back to the old way of life. I quit. If anyone comes looking for me, that’s where they’ll find me.”
Like so many of us, Adam had blown his assignment. He flunked his first test. And, of all things, here comes God to check in and see how things are going. I confess, I felt really sorry for the poor guy. There have been times when I was in places where I had no business being, doing things that I knew I shouldn’t. In times and places like that, I sure didn’t want my Mom to ask: “Where you been, Son?” But, in this case, Adam stands guilty of disobedience in the presence of a Holy God
That occurred to me as being absolutely hilarious. Talk about a guy getting caught with “his pants down,” this had to have been one of the most awkward scenes in human history. Can you imagine?
If you remember, when Adam and Eve were placed in the garden they were totally innocent. Naïve. And naked, and didn’t know or care about that fact. But, when they disobeyed clear instructions from their Maker, that innocence was cracked. With the introduction of sin and disobedience, innocence fled. And for the first time, it dawned upon Adam that he was in a bad position. Guilty of disobedience. And stark ‘nekkid,’ in the presence of a holy God.
And when God comes to visit, in a classic exercise in futility, he tried to hide. From God!
In answer to the call, “Adam, where are you?” I could almost visualize him responding: “Why, I’m right here, Sir. Over here behind this fig leaf.” Picture that, if you can. Attempting the impossible feat of hiding from God in the first place, and doing it by clutching a few fig leaves or branches!
Trying to hide from God! Really, no matter who you are, doesn’t it sound absurd?
He knows where we are. “Thou, God seest me.” Genesis 16:13. There are several instances in Scripture which indicate that God is aware of what is happening in His universe. There isn’t any place where we can hide.
With the developments in the global positioning system, and the ability enforcement agencies have for tracking, we should have very little difficulty believing God could know where anyone is at any time He decided He needed to know.
I don’t know how that information affects you. Personally, there are times when it provides comfort for me. Especially if I’ve tried to do something good and my intentions have been misunderstood.
Of course, there are other times when I feel like Adam must’ve felt. At those times, I wish I could find a hole to crawl in. A rock under which to hide. Or a loving, forgiving Father in whose love I can find forgiveness and cleansing.
Years ago I read a poem which pressed upon my mind how impossible, unnecessary, and utterly foolish it is to try to avoid or evade the great God of the Universe and Lover of My Soul. Though I can recall the words, I do not recall the name of the author to whom I’m indebted for the profound thoughts contained in this beautiful piece of poetry:
“All night I fled from God, across the waste and dreary spaces of an unknown land where sorrow and sighing dwelt. I heard the cry of stormy winds behind me; and I knew that, darkly on their awful wings, He rode whom I wanted to escape. The thunder pealed above me and in the thunder was the sound, like a trumpet, speaking terrible things and pealing ever louder; for I had sinned, and God was now awake and had arisen and left His ancient place to come and deal with me. Through the long night I fled; yet God is fleet and scorns time and space. And still I pressed, trembling, through swollen streams and over rough and desolate grounds; and in the dark, fell, and arose, and faintly struggled on.
Until, at last when night was almost done, I heard the sorrowful thunder of the sea, and saw the white waves crashing at my feet and no way of escape on either hand. Then, death being close before and God behind, I turned at last to meet the majesty of His offended face. . .
And, lo, the storms were over And the morning stars shone brightly, sweetly on the face of a Man who wore a crown of knotted thorns and smiled on me. At sight of Him, I cried aloud. For clear on the fair hair, which caught the dawn, I saw a crown of knotted thorn. And on His face, as smile. For me!
And I had drawn those wounded feet behind me. For still, as always, He is seeking what is lost, and finding what had sought to hide from him.”
God’s child and servant, your friend, brother and fellow student