But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
Initially, that may sound like a weird question. Um, God; I’m right here. You know all things so You already know that answer. Next question, please.
Yes, He does know all things. But the amazing thing about God’s questions is that He asks them not for His benefit but for ours. He confronts us so we can do some intense introspection to find honest answers.
In Genesis Chapter 3, we find the familiar story about how Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. After disobeying God’s command, they realized they were naked and subsequently hid from God in shame.
See, God used to come down in the cool of the evening to hang out and chat with them. But that specific day was very different. There was no way could they talk with God in their condition! However, that level of vulnerability and complete transparency is precisely what God wants from us. He wants honest, unguarded interaction with us. Yet, we often try to hide behind our flimsy fig leaves of shame, guilt, self-sufficiency, or pride.
When God visited that evening and noticed their usual spot was vacant, He asked them, Where are you? Timidly, they responded from their hiding place. They explained their need for modesty because they discovered something new that day. Um, God, You’re really not gonna believe this, but we’re naked!
God then asked, Who said you were naked? With this question, He exposed their deception. He knew they were hiding because of their disobedience and the resulting guilt and shame. In essence, He asked them, What’s going on and to whom have you been listening? Last we talked, we were fine.
He poses that same question to us today.
Where are you?
Why are you avoiding Me?
To whom have you been listening instead of Me?
As we consider the question, we face not only the answer to why we hide from God, but also where we hide.
Sometimes, just as Adam and Eve did, we hide in our fear, shame, and guilt. We do so because we think we are no longer acceptable to God. Our inner voices deceive us into thinking we are inadequate, insignificant, and unworthy of God because of past failures and mistakes. Additionally, we have the same enemy that slithered around in the Garden of Eden. As the father of lies and false accuser, he bullies us into our hiding places with his whispered venom.
But God offers a universal newsflash: Since He is omnipresent — everywhere simultaneously — He has gone with you into whatever hiding place you have chosen. Yes, He is right there beside you. He knows right where you are, but He still asks, Where are you? so you can stop running and hiding long enough to contemplate the answer.
The reality is, He knows the exact reason why you went into your self-imposed hiding place. He already knows the secret shame and fear you bear. He already hears the lying voices in your mind and knows the justifications behind which you are hiding (blaming others, addiction, poor parenting, lack of affirmation, abandonment, abusive environment, etc.)
But here’s the good news! God does not want you hiding in fear. He is not a cosmic cop waiting to find you so He can lightning-bolt you upside your head. He loves you! He wants to reconcile the relationship between you that was broken by sin so He can restore you to Himself. It is the devil who wants you hiding in fear and shame, not God. I Timothy 1:7 tells us, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. God wants to give you the power to live victoriously, the love to follow Him willingly, and the soundness of mind to make better choices in the future.
As you think about your life and ponder the answer to this question, picture God with His arms outstretched toward you like He is welcoming a long-lost friend. In addition to, Where are you? you might also ask yourself, What is keeping me here and when am I going to come out of the shadows to stand honestly before God in the light of His loving acceptance, forgiveness, grace, and mercy?
It is my hope and prayer that you will stop hiding and reconcile yourself to God today. Besides, those fig leaves don’t look good on you!
Be sure to check back every week and read more from our 9-part series on questions God Wants to Know.