THE FIRST QUESTION in the Bible draws us powerfully into God’s passionate longing for friendship with us. We see it in the second creation story in Genesis 2:4–3:24. After creating Adam and Eve, God gives them everything they need for a flourishing life – air to breathe, food to eat, work to do, and someone to love. God only forbids one thing: They must not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, for then they will enter into rivalry with God.
We all know how the story goes from there. Adam and Eve refuse to take God’s warning seriously. They eat the fruit that they have been told not to eat to tragic consequence. Their intimate connection with God and each other is broken. Closeness is replaced by distance, intimacy by distrust, and love by fear.
Adam and Eve sew fig leaves together to hide their nakedness from each other, and they hide from God behind some bushes in the garden. Then we read those haunting words that take us right into the loving heart of God: “But the Lord God called…’Where are you?’ ” (Genesis 3:9).
God could have asked different questions that would have revealed a very different picture of God. If God were an angry parent, God would have asked, “How could you have done this after all I have done for you?” But God does not.
If God wanted Adam and Eve to feel really bad about their actions, God would have asked, “Why did you do this when I gave so much to you?” But God does not.
Instead of these guilt-producing, conscience-pricking questions, God simply asks, “Where are you?”
As we consider this question, does it help us realize how dearly God wants to be our friend? Certainly, God’s question shows us that even when we mess up, when we let ourselves down, when we fail to obey God, God does not reject us. Nor does God give up on us. Rather, God comes looking for us. God continues to pursue our companionship.
God knows the worst about us, but that knowledge does not prevent God from taking the initiative in reaching out to us.
Here’s the bottom line of God’s good news: Nothing can ever extinguish the flame of God’s passionate longing to be our friend.
– Trevor Hudson
From pages 36-37 of Beyond Loneliness: The Gift of God’s Friendship by Trevor Hudson. Copyright © 2016 by Trevor Hudson. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
How do you answer God’s question, “Where are you?” Share your thoughts.
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.
He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 22:14-16, NRSV
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This week we remember: Patrick of Ireland (March 17).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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