July 15, 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. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
Dr. John Gottman is one of the world’s leading students of marriage. Professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington, Gottman has spent over forty years doing serious research on what makes marriages flourish and what destroys them. Among his findings, Gottman discovered that marriages in which spouses “turn towards” each other have a high probability of longevity and health. Turning towards is very simple, really; it’s responding in some way to your spouse, to what your spouse says, does, thinks, feels. It’s giving a modest amount of attention when your spouse “bids” for it. Turning towards is often as easy as literally turning in the direction of your spouse when he or she is talking to you. It can be as little as a friendly nod.
In Genesis 3:8-9, we see God turning towards us. Actually, God does much more than this. Turning towards us is just the beginning. After the first humans sin, their relationship with God is broken (see yesterday’s devotion). They rejected God and his direction over their lives, preferring the way of death to the way of life. God had every right to strike them dead with a Zeus-like thunderbolt from the sky. Or God could have simply turned his back on those who had first turned their back on him.
But God did not do this. Rather, he turned toward the man and the woman, first by walking in the garden and being present for them (3:8). As God drew near to them, they sought to hide from God’s presence. Did God wander away, leaving the man and woman in their shameful separation from him? No. God “called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (3:9).
Where are you? What a question! Of course God knew where the man and woman were hiding. But he didn’t expose them. He didn’t demolish the trees where the first couple was hiding. Rather, almost as if he were ignorant, God turned toward them, calling out, seeking, inviting.
If you’re familiar with the rest of Genesis 3, you know that God does not simply dismiss human sin with a wave of his hand and a sigh, “No big deal.” There is much pain ahead, much more brokenness. But in Genesis 3:8-9 we see God turning toward and reaching out. We catch glimmers of grace, grace that will be writ large later on in the biblical story. Yes, the man and woman sinned. Yes, brokenness would now twist and tarnish the world. Yes, human sin would lead to death. But, the God who turns toward us in grace isn’t finished yet.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Can you think of times when someone in your life, perhaps your spouse or a dear friend, has turned toward you in a way that made a difference?
How do you respond to God’s actions in Genesis 3:8-9? Can you see God turning toward the first humans, and even more?
In what ways have you experienced God’s gracious presence, even God’s seeking you when you have rejected him?
Gracious God, thank you for turning toward us. Thank you for not abandoning us in our sin. Thank you for not leaving us in our shame. Thank you for not letting death have the final word.
Lord, I think of times when I have wanted to hide from you, but you turned toward me. You sought me. You rescued me. You comforted me. I deserved none of this, but you were gracious. You are gracious still.
Thank you most of all for turning toward us in Jesus Christ, for becoming one of us, for seeking and saving us in Christ. Thank you for your amazing grace. 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.