Where are you?
My spiritual director loves to point out when I am hiding from God. “Why are you hiding,” he’ll provocatively ask me. Of course I’ll immediately object: “I’m not hiding! I’ve just been busy with work, family and stuff…” He’ll nod empathetically and won’t say another word about it, but of course the question served its purpose. By the time I’m done with direction, deep down I know that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
In Genesis 3 we read about someone else hiding from God. After Adam and Eve disobey God and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, scripture says that “the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God”. God pursues them: “But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Their easy intimacy with the Lord had suddenly ruptured. Filled with shame at having disobeyed him, they hid from his presence.
Here we catch a glimpse into a primordial story with which we are meant to identify. Adam and Eve’s sin is not unlike our own decisions to take for ourselves, no matter the cost, that which we think will make us happiest. Of course wanting to be happy is a good thing. The problem, however, is often times we have no idea what will bring us actual and lasting happiness.
God wants us to be uninhibitedly in relationship with him. It is for this relationship we were created and true happiness apart from God is impossible. But stuff often gets in the way. Initially on this journey, it’s probably really obvious stuff: the chase after power, pleasure, honor or wealth. God will always fight to be first in our lives and will go as far as we allow him to dethrone the competition. So, when we’ve tired of hiding because of our shame, we come back to God, realize what idols we’ve been giving our worship to and tear them down.
The next stage on the journey is usually much more subtle. The good things in our life can also serve as distractions to the kind of intimacy God desires with each of us. So family and friends, career, entertainment like books or movies, food, health and fitness, hobbies, electronics, internet, social media – I could go on. The list is literally endless. All very good things, but still substitutes for God and places for us to hide.
This kind of relationship with God takes radical vulnerability, openness and trust. It is hard. I hide all the time. It also takes a real desire to want to live in this relationship with God and the wisdom and faith to recognize this relationship as that which brings the happiness we so desperately want. If you don’t yet have this desire, pray for it friends. God gives to all who ask generously and ungrudgingly (James 1:5). Let us praise the Lord; and give Him thanks!