Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, 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?” (Genesis 3:1-9 ESV)
This is the part of our story where everything changes. Humanity once walked in the cool of the day face to face with God in the perfection of Eden; now these two (and all who would follow) are banished to a new world outside of this perfect communion. A world and life now stained and breaking down under the weight of sin. When we read or talk about Genesis 3, we often think of the horrible decision of Eve and Adam in that moment, or we think of God’s anger toward that sin and the enormous and dramatic consequences of their actions (and of course, ours). But what I love most about this story is the “where are you?”
God knew perfectly well where Adam was. He knew what had happened. It’s not as if God was mystified and surprised by the whole thing or He suddenly couldn’t figure out where Adam had wandered off to, like us when we lose our keys. He knew. He knew what had happened. He knew where they were. But still, he asked, “where are you?” And in those three words, He showed us something unfathomable about His heart. Longing. Love. That desire for us to be with Him where He is that Jesus talked to His Father about just before the Cross in John 17:24.
The “where are you” of Genesis 3 reveals a God who would one day be laying in a manger with teeny tiny toes, walking the road to Calvary with bleeding back and brow, asking Thomas to touch His hands and believe, and ascending to the heavens with a promise to return. The “where are you” reminds me of the Resurrected One asking Peter “do you love Me?” not once, but three times, even though He already knew the answer. He says these things for us to hear. (When He says them more than once, you can be really sure He wants us to hear.) He says these things so that we will understand something about Him. Every word means something when it falls from God’s lips.
“Where are you, oh Adam, oh Eve? Don’t worry, my love and mercy will find you. I am a Good Shepherd. Surely Goodness and Mercy will follow you and hunt you down, even to the furthest reaches of this dark night. Look and see how far and deep and low my Love will go. I am also a Lamb. Slain. From before the Tree or its fruit were even made. Where are you? I know where you are and I am coming…”
Advent. Advenio. “I arrive. I come. I am coming.”
“Untethered by time, God sees us all… vagabond and ragamuffins all, He saw us before we were born.
And He loves what He sees. Flooded by emotion. Overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us, one by one, and says, “You are My child. I love you dearly. I’m aware that someday you’ll turn from Me and walk away. But I want you to know, I’ve already provided a way back.”
And to prove it, He did something extraordinary.
Stepping from the throne, He removed His robe of light and wrapped Himself in skin: pigmented, human skin. The light of the universe entered a dark, wet womb. He whom angels worship nestled Himself in the placenta of a peasant, was birthed into a cold night, and then slept on cow’s hay.
Mary didn’t know whether to give Him milk or give Him praise, but she gave Him both since He was, as near as she could figure, hungry and holy.
Joseph didn’t know whether to call Him Junior or Father. But in the end, he called Him Jesus, since that’s what the angel had said and since he didn’t have the faintest idea what to name a God he could cradle in his arms…
Don’t you think…their heads tilted and their minds wondered, “What in the world are you doing, God?” Or, better phrased, “God, what are You doing in the world?”
“Can anything make me stop loving you?” God asks. “Watch Me speak your language, sleep on your earth, and feel your hurts. Behold the Maker of sight and sound as He sneezes, coughs, and blows His nose. You wonder if I understand how you feel? Look into the dancing eyes of the kid in Nazareth: that’s God walking to school. Ponder the toddler at Mary’s table: that’s God spilling His milk.”
“You wonder how long My love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That’s Me you see up there, your Maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleeding. Covered in spit and sin-soaked.”
“That’s your sin I’m feeling. That’s your death I’m dying. That’s your resurrection I’m living. That’s how much I love you.” “
(excerpt from One Incredible Moment by Max Lucado)
How do we respond to a love like His? A Holy Heart that cries out to us in the night, “where are you?” — just to show us that even in the midst of our betrayal and shame, He is still coming for us. As we stop to wonder at His coming, let us not forget that He came while we were still sinners all. Look and see and believe just how far and deep and low the love of God will go…