By: Jim Roberts
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9
My 80-year old father is one of the finest men I know. He’s kind and helpful and cares for others. He’s a handy-man, always ready to build, fix, or supply something to anyone who needs it. He’s been a gracious friend and supporter of mine as an adult. He likes my sermons and gives me encouraging compliments on a regular basis. I treasure my relationship with him.
In the interest of full disclosure I must tell you that he’s mellowed in his old age. The man I remember as a boy was a different person; at least that was my perception. I have shadowy memories of a serious young man in a gray suit, button downed shirt and black horn rimmed glasses. Dad was all business.
In his defense, it was a different time: the early sixties. Then parents followed a firm philosophy. They did not aspire to be their children’s best friends. Their job was to train up children in the way they should go by any means necessary including corporal punishment.
Most dads back then were the enforcers in the family. Moms would say to their misbehaving children, “Just wait till your father comes home!” And when he came home, we faced the music and, trust me, it wasn’t a happy tune.
I’m glad things have changed for most families. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to come home weary from a long day of work and then be handed the chore of disciplining the kids.
I remember one evening when I was playing with my friends in a field. I must have been about 7 years old. In the distance I saw my father walking toward me. My whole body clenched. What had I done wrong? What was about to happen? My imagination ran wild. If I could have hidden, I would’ve.
As he came closer I noticed he was eating an apple and to my surprise, smiling. He was smiling at me. I don’t remember what he said, but I do remember that he had simply come out to see me. I was his boy, he loved me and he just wanted to see me.
Sometimes we assume the worst about God. We misjudge God and assume that God always thinks the worst of us. We know the truth about ourselves and it’s not all pretty so we hide from God. There are many places and ways to do this. We can hide ourselves in our work, our hobbies, our relationships. Some people even hide from God in church.
But God keeps walking toward us. Picture God walking toward you this Lenten season. Smiling, eating an apple and enjoying himself because he knows he will soon be near you. Be listening as the days draw nearer to Easter. Perhaps you’ll hear God call out to you in your spirit, “Where are you?”