“…the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’” (Genesis 3:9-10)
New International Version – UK (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Immediately after The Fall, the Bible records God’s first question to humankind: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). It’s not a game of hide-and-seek. Nor is it a question of geography or of physical location. It’s a soul-question. It’s a spiritual enquiry. It’s an invitation to reflect and to confess and to repent. The answers are a potent mixture of denial and defiance and evasion and blame-shifting. But the question resolutely stands and ultimately has to be answered. The answer reveals that humankind is now in a place of separation from God, of putting self before Sovereign, of valuing knowledge of the creation before knowledge of God, of self-reliance before submission, of pride before humility. The rest of Scripture is about that journey into a wasteland and humankind’s slow realisation that this place of separation is a place of malcontent, of strife and striving, of sorrows and hardships, of helplessness and hopelessness. It is also about God’s efforts to re-engage with humankind and to rescue, redeem and restore what was lost.
Perhaps this first week of a whole new year is a good point to hear God asking us that same question: “Where are you?” Perhaps it’s a time to answer this soul-question honestly: Where am I? Am I moving away from God? Am I increasing my distance from Him? Am I drifting deeper into a wasteland? Perhaps it’s a moment to answer this spiritual enquiry without dissembling: Am I drifting deeper into the wasteland? Am I content with where I find myself spiritually? Am I moving closer to God, nearer to Him? Or am I doing things that compound my separation from Him? Do I want to come home to Him?
I pray each one of us will come closer to the Lord and to one another this year.