A couple years ago, my landlord finally cut down the ugly bushes in front of my house. Well, evidently the family of snakes who called those bushes their home, were not happy. Suddenly I had snakes crawling around my yard. I reacted just like must of us, I freaked out! My first instinct was to kill them, though they were just innocent garter snakes (I believe the only good snake is a dead one.) Even though they did me no harm, my first reaction was to rid my yard, and garden, of their sinister presence. This reminds me of the serpent (snake) we read about in Genesis 3:8-15
“They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, 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?” 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 from 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 from 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 tricked me, and I ate.” The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Adam and Eve are hiding, they are feeling vulnerable and scared, they have eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and they have been forever changed, their joyful innocence has gone, they are aware of their own nakedness. They know they messed up. And God calls; where are you? Of course God knows where they are, but His question reveals that He senses something is wrong, yet wishes to offer Adam and Eve a chance to explain themselves. Now I’m not talking about sin here, for you must note that the passage itself says nothing about sin or the fall. Rather, the scene reminds me more of a couple of children who, knowing they did something wrong, try to hide the evidence.
But Adam and Eve are lost, they have lost their confidence, they have lost their open and childlike relationship with God, they are like street children thrust into adult lives too early, confused and hurting, attempting to clothe themselves with fig leaves. Dressed in this inadequate clothing they respond to God, and the blame game begins….
“She gave it to me…”
“The serpent tricked me…
So what’s going on here? I wonder as I read the passages in Genesis if God’s plan might at some point have been to share the knowledge of good and evil with them, when the time was right, when they had grown in their relationship with Him, when they were ready for such a burden. For God’s plan is surely that we walk with Him, to grow in the knowledge and love of Him. No loving parent would want to keep their children as babies, we want them to grow and to learn, to develop and to mature, and good parents allow their children to stretch the boundaries and explore new things one step at a time. But the fruit has been eaten, their eyes have been opened and Adam and Eve are lost, lost to themselves and to God in confusion, pain and shame.
And I wonder how often that is our experience, I wonder how much of our spiritual and religious life is so much an exercise in sewing fig leaves together in a vain attempt to clothe ourselves and to be presentable. How often do we hide from God and from ourselves trying to be something we are not? The truth is we are unable to cover our vulnerability and brokenness…
But yet, God comes calling!
God is calling, calling to us today, for we are as vulnerable and broken as Adam and Eve. Just as God did not leave Adam and Eve in their inadequate clothing but provided animal skins for them so He comes to us in Christ and offers us Himself. An animal was sacrificed to cover Adam and Eve; Jesus gave of himself to cover us, and He comes calling, calling us to clothe ourselves with the garments He supplies us with; compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Calling us to be quick to forgive an offense, to forgive as quickly and completely as He has forgiven us. And most of all He calls us to receive His garment of love, a garment so rich that it covers our brokenness when we receive it in humility and vulnerability. The proud and the arrogant, the self righteous and the self sufficient ones cannot wear these clothes, they are given to those who know their frailty and weakness, the vulnerability and nakedness, for the clothes He gives us are the clothes of grace.
God is calling, calling us today to cast off our religious fig leaves and to become bearers of love and grace. And we need not be afraid for God knows us as we are and will cover us with all that we need. He has chosen to place his treasure into the cracked clay pots of our lives and to make us beautiful….
God is calling….
How will you respond?