It has been a while since my last blog…mostly because I find that when I struggle within myself I find it harder to write anything. Most days I just sit and listen and take in the things the Lord is showing me. I think this week has struck a cord for me…so now I am able to express what I am dealing with. Allow me to start this blog with this quote:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech…” – A.W Tozer
This quote by Tozer best describes the essence of my blog today. I recently joined a life group (a group of people meeting up once a week for different activities) at my church. The gist of what we do in this life group is that we sit and discover the word together. We would read a certain part of the text and speak about what our observations are from that specific text…the challenge is that we are not allowed to bring any other previous knowledge into the talk…just the text. I have been privileged to have found a group of people who provoke my thinking through their thinking. I sit there on Sundays and my heart becomes unravelled, mostly due to the fact that I don’t like my thinking to be challenged. Perhaps a more apt description would be that through the process of dialogue my heart needs to touch the deep accusations that linger. This week’s text hit me like a ton of bricks…why?… it challenges the deepest part of me…what do I really perceive God to be like. I cannot tell you how many times I have read this specific text and seen it from the perspective of an angry God.
This week we read Genesis 3:1-13:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And 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. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, Where are you? And he said, I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? The man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate. Then the Lord God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate.
This text is pretty much common right? How many times have I heard this story in Sunday school…over and over and over. Yet this past Sunday I encountered the text in very different manner. As I read it, my heart begins to absorb a few specific parts. There is something beautiful and intimate that happens in this text, that reveals the heart of the Lord to me in such a new manner. As humans we are fallible and when we fail…we are broken…yet there is such redemption in the dialogue we have with the Lord is our exposed state. I have come to find that for myself recently…he never fails me…even when I fail him over and over and over. The Lord is good and near to us…if only we would allow him to see us in our shame and give him our shame.
Allow me to share the few things I feel the Lord is saying to me through this text:
- Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. One of the Guys in my life group pointed this out and it really got stuck in my mind. The serpent was strategic in the way he allowed temptation into the equation. He knew something about Eve that would cause her to fail. I believe that he knew causing doubt in the character of God was the downfall for her. Even though Adam and Eve was literally in the garden with God (And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day)…doubt and trust was challenged…leading to the shame they felt in the end. He said to the woman, Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?
- …but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. For a long time in my life I viewed boundaries as a pain. Why can’t I do this…why do I have to do this. Like a child we are hedged in by parents… in the same manner the Lord sets boundaries…what amazes me most is that even as he sets these boundaries…he will NEVER violate our right to cross them. We will always have a choice to love him rightly or to walk away and entertain the things we know will harm us in the end. I have had to sit this week and find the little things I entertain that seems harmless right now…yet I know deep down is probably not too great for my soul.
- Then the failure happens. Eve and Adam eats from the tree midst the garden and they are enlightened to the fact that they are naked. Shame slips in and they decide to cover themselves by making coverings for their nakedness. Then Adam and Eve hides from God (come on really? He is God!)…yet there is something beautiful to me about the way the Lord ‘handles’ the situation: And 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. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, Where are you? And he said, I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? The man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate. Then the Lord God said to the woman, What is this that you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate. Firstly this is God…he is the creator of the garden and everything in it. Why would he ask them where they are? Why would he go looking for them? If it was me at this point I would be annoyed, because not only did they disobey me, now they are hiding…and I know all of this already. I believe the Lord was intentional, he knew where they were, he knew what they did. Yet something about him searching for them speaks volumes of is desire for communication. It is like he wanted to hear their side of the story…like he wanted them to come to him and speak to him as opposed to run in shame and hide. There is also something deeply humble about God in this moment…like he chose to seek them out, he chose to ask them what happened. What does this reveal to me about the Lord?
So this week as I read these verses, I started seeing this simple truth. The Lord is merciful, he delights in dialogue. He wants me to come to him in my failures. He wants that fellowship with him so that I can find who he is. More than anything there is something in my heart that relates to Eve and Adam…I doubt the Lord most days and then when I choose to ‘fix’ my own situation I am left hiding. Yet in the hiding the Lord searches me out until he hears my voice saying ‘Here I am…I was afraid of you’. In the core of who I am, I still struggle with the accusation that he is angry and stoic. I pray that someday I will find the truth of his lovingkindness for myself.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)
This is my prayer for myself in this time of discovery:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)