February 4, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Genesis 3:8-9 (NRSV)
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?”
God came to the garden knowing there was a distortion, and He began to bring that broken creation into focus.
It was a good Huffy BMX bike, chrome wheels and painted all white with orange letters. Christmas was coming and I had made my petitions and made every effort to get my parents to sign an MOU (memorandum of understanding). Traditionally none of the gifts under the tree had any names on them but this was too big to wrap.
I went to visit my godmother’s house and as was my custom, I made my way up to the attic bedroom for some writing and drawing. When I turned the corner an orange glow shone from the glory of a Huffy BMX bike. I stood in awe as the hope for a snowless Christmas increased as well as the feeling knowing that something you’d hoped for was going to happen. Now I just needed to get out of the attic before it was too….too late…I heard the sound of the steps of my father. I felt like I had ruined Christmas.
In a good creation there was a good garden and a very good man and woman. But soon, something was amiss. God was present, Adam and Eve were present, but something was already off. Humanity ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and disrupted the economy of every relationship. Humanity now does not understand God, him or herself, each other or creation. And sin caused separation and a major part of life was in hiding.
The unfolding story of God’s creation is not without at least two cases of irony. The first is in Adam and Eve’s decision to hide. David didn’t exist yet but he would have asked them “Where can you flee from God’s presence?” (Psalm 139:7b) And it would be millennia before Abraham Kuyper would write, recapturing the wonder of the Gospel for all of creation: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
In the garden, Adam and Eve—whether by fear or the already permeating noetic effects of sin—forgot that it was too late. When you hear footsteps of your creator, it is already too late to hide from the one who already knows every square inch of the fig leaves or anything else we could stitch together to make us incognito.
Adam and Eve did not dismiss the potentiality of God’s presence (or involvement) in humanity and creation’s troublesome circumstance. On the contrary, it was the reality of God’s presence that led them to think they needed to hide. They heard the sound of God meandering through his fallen creation and they quickly understand that obscurity is not possible with our creator. He makes himself known to creation, even when we have made a horrible mess of it. We can be in awe of God for many things. One of which is that even when things are at its darkest, just at the right time, he comes wandering through creation in ways that tell us that he is present. It is true that omnipresence is an attribute of God. But it makes a difference when we recognize that it is a part of his character to be present.
Sin makes us forget. By chapter 4 of Genesis, brothers will be at odds and obscurity will be the pattern of humanity. By chapter 7 there will be few to call on God’s name. And the spiral of distortion between God, humanity and creation will become increasingly warped. Few will recognize the steps of God walking through the garden or moving through the Middle East or brushing up against a bush until it burns.
How does all of this relate to those who are leaders? Well, leadership is about influence. You may not be titled or have much practical power to be listened to. But you have influence to refocus on the things that are really important in your work aisle, at the cubicle, on the back of a trash truck, in the high regarded assembly line or the pulpit and the classroom. Do you hear the sound of God wandering through the garden? In the garden we find God wandering and beginning to wind back the distortion of sin’s reign on humanity and creation. It may be that his presence in your places of influence will wind things back into order there also.
What are the areas of sewing leaves that you need to give back to God?
Why is it important for you to remember God’s personhood when you think about his characteristics?
Take an area of work or home where you tend to forget that God is present and has purpose. Take time before each day and talk to God, believing that he is involved in it. How might this change your petitions, beliefs, approach and schedule as you become more convinced that he is in control?
God, in a world where things seem to be spiraling out of hand, thank you for being here to work with me every day. Help us to hear you and remember timing is always right. And remind us that you are reconciling all things toward your goal. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: People Fall into Sin in Work (Genesis 3:1-24)
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
Outstanding work by Delano Sheffield!