July 14, 2015 • Life for Leaders
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.”
I don’t like it when things are broken. If, for example, our dishwasher isn’t working, I feel on edge, worried, and unhappy. My wife, Linda, reassures me that the repairperson will come and fix it. Or, worst-case scenario, we have to get a new dishwasher, and even that isn’t the end of the world. Meanwhile, we’ll do just fine washing the dishes by hand. Linda is right, of course. But still, broken things nag at me, stealing my peace.
The world nags at me all the time because it is broken. Each day, I try to keep up on the news by reading a couple major newspapers. And, each day, I’m reminded of the brokenness of our world. It can be seen in almost every major story, whether we’re talking about viral outbreaks in Africa, senseless violence in the Middle East, or racial hatred in the United States.
Brokenness is also writ large in Genesis 3. As we saw in yesterday’s devotion, sin leads to brokenness. As soon as the first humans disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, brokenness invaded their lives, distorting their self-image as well as their relationship. No longer could they happily be themselves. Rather, they felt the need to hide from themselves and from each other.
And, as it turns out, from God. According to Genesis 3:8, “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.” Now we see evidence of the most fundamental brokenness of all, that between human beings and God. No longer are they free to enjoy God’s presence. Rather, they sense, for the first time, a desire to hide from God.
I believe this is one of the saddest verses in the whole Bible. Broken relationships are always painful, but this is the worst. My heart aches for what the man and woman were experiencing. And I can only imagine how the reaction of the first couple felt to God. But, as I read Genesis 3:8, my sadness is also for myself. I am the man and the woman. I’ve been in their shoes more times than I would like to remember. When God draws near, I see myself in my sin and I want to hide. Rather than running into the arms of my Heavenly Father, I run away. I expect you know this experience as well.
For those of us who know the whole biblical story, we realize that Genesis 3 is a set up for much good that is still to come. Yet, before we rush ahead to the good news, I’d urge you to spend some time with the bad news, the sad news. See if there’s anything God wants to say to you or do in you in light of all of this.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When do you feel the need to hide from God? Are there times when you try to forget that God is present with you? Why?
Do you sense in yourself both a longing for God and also feelings of wanting to be separate from God?
What might God be saying to you today?
Gracious God, as I read this story in Genesis, I feel a deep sadness. Oh, how I wish we didn’t feel the need to hide from you. How I long for the freedom that the first humans knew before sin! How I wish I could be before you just as I am, spiritually naked and unashamed!
I hate it, Lord, that part of me still wants to hide from you, even after I’ve known your love and grace through Christ. It’s as if I’m saying to myself, “I want to sin, even though I know it will put distance between me and God.” And I’m saying to you, “Turn away from me, Lord. Leave me alone now.” Forgive me, Lord. Cleanse me. Heal me. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.