By Marcia Lee Laycock
The children had disobeyed and they knew it. They also knew their rebellion would have grave consequences. They made a desperate and vain attempt to make the situation better. Then they heard their father’s footsteps and they ran away and tried to hide. Then they heard their father’s voice, calling, “Where are you?” They could tell he knew exactly where they were.
Most of us can remember moments like that, moments when we had to face parents whom, we were certain, would be red-faced with anger. We knew hiding was futile. They would always know where we were. Our knees knocked and our voice came out in a squeak. We did not dare make eye contact. That’s how I used to picture Adam and Eve and their Father in that final scene in the Garden of Eden. I imagined they were terrified. I imagined God’s voice was angry, ready to call down all the forces of the universe against them. They deserved it, after all - they’d destroyed everything good in their world by destroying the best thing, their relationship with God.
But now I see their Father, and mine, in a different light. I think when Adam and Eve heard God’s question on that day, it did not make them quake with fear so much as it filled them with sorrow. They heard the heart-breaking tone of His voice, a tone that ached to restore the relationship, a tone that wept because He knew the suffering and pain to come, both for them and for Himself. They may have heard, too, a certain note of hope, an underlying peace beneath the pain.
When God asked Adam that enigmatic question, “Where are you?” I believe He was asking that most painful of questions that must also be asked of us – “Do you know where you are? Do you know you have separated yourself from the source of life and love? Do you know there is only one way back, through the agony of death?” God was telling Adam that he would have to face his sin, as we have to face ours, and deal with the consequences.
But then there is that note of hope, that underlying peace. In those beginnings, God knew the end. He knew the complete and utter victory Jesus, His Son, would win at the moment Jesus relinquished His will and His life. The Father knew, in that moment of heartbreak in the Garden, that many would choose to find their way back to Him.
In the meantime, He dresses us, as He dressed Adam and Eve, with a tenderness, love and mercy that ought to break our hearts. And with the wisdom of a parent who knows his children must make their own way, He turns us to the gate and points outside. Then He continues calling, continues asking that question, full of longing and love - “Where are you?”