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Where Are You, Adam?
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Thomas Cole, 'The Garden of Eden' (1828), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, 'Where are you?'" (Genesis 3:8-9)
You know the story. Adam and Eve have partaken of the forbidden fruit, and realize full well their disobedience. So when they hear God walking in the garden, they hide. They are ashamed. But God calls out to them.
The text suggests that the sound of Yahweh walking in the garden is not a new sound to them. They have heard it before. It is a pattern. "In the cool of the day," before it gets too hot to be out and about, God is accustomed to walk in his garden.
Of course, the Bible pictures God here as walking. This is called "anthropomorphism," the attribution to God of human behaviors, emotions, or intentions. Don't be troubled by that. God makes himself accessible to his children in ways they can understand him. We see this often in the Bible in the lives of Abraham and Moses, in the Psalms and Prophets. The great and awesome God who creates universes by the word of his power humbles himself in love, by appearing to us in a way that won't scorch us into oblivion in a moment of time that full exposure to his Presence would certainly do. God is so much more than is portrayed here as "walking in the garden," but this is how he chooses to reveal himself to Adam and to Eve, as One who walks in his garden in the morning's coolness. He makes himself accessible to them in this fashion day by day.
It also appears that Yahweh isn't accustomed strolling through his garden alone. He likes companionship. He expects to find Adam and Eve, who will join him on his walk, conversing, talking with one another in the cool of the day. And when they don't appear, he calls out, "Adam, where are you? Eve, where are you? I want to walk with you. I want to talk with you." This is profound!
Let me tell you a personal story. A few months ago, as I was spending time with the Lord at the beginning of my day, I prayed, as I do nearly every morning, "Lord, let me serve you well today." Not a bad prayer. My prayer casts me in a servant role -- servant to Master. Humility. Obedience. All good. But this morning God stopped me. I felt God saying to me something like, "What about Me? What about my needs? I love you. I enjoy spending time with you. I want to hang out with you." I was focused on my needs and forgetting God's needs. Well, if not "needs," then God's personal desires.
I am overwhelmed! Me? God actually cares to spend time with me? I am so small. So unworthy. And God wants to spend time with me? Wants to? Looks forward to? Misses me when I can't make it? God wants to be my friend, rather than the other way around? Oh, I know all this theologically. I memorize the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
I have been with God day by day, but I have been neglecting to enjoy him. When I realize that he wants me to enjoy him, and that he enjoys time with me, it brings tears to my eyes.
This isn't just me spending time preparing my heart and worshipping to equip myself spiritually for a day of serving the Lord (which sounds rather selfish from one point of view). Suddenly, it's no longer a spiritual discipline, but a friendship. Having coffee with a friend. Playing disc golf with a buddy. Enjoying each other's company. Taking time to take a walk, just to be together. I tend to be so goal-focused that I rush to be on with my work, while my Lord is saying, "Slow down. There'll be time. Let's just chat for a while."
Now I'm in God's garden. And I hear the Lord God walking in his garden in the cool of the day. I don't hide. My heart skips. I smile. And then I hear him, "Ralph, where are you?" And I answer, "I'm here, and I've been looking forward to being with You. Just You."
I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses,
And the Voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
-- C. Austin Miles, 1913
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