(From Part 6: Life in the Spirit)
When God comes walking in the garden after Adam and Eve fell, his first question is, “Adam, where are you?”
We know where Adam is. He’s in the same place you and I go to when we’ve messed up, or fallen back into an old habit, or crossed a boundary, and failed to live in love: hiding.
Hiding can express itself in a variety of ways. There can be a physical absence where, for example, you lock yourself in your room or leave the house.
It may show itself through avoidance.
You can hide right in front of someone through a lowering of the eyes, or an evasion of eye contact with others. You presume that if you hold their gaze, they’ll see right through you, what you’ve done and what you’re really like.
Hiding often expresses itself through the wearing of emotional masks. You project on to others what you want them to see: I’m competent, I’m okay, I’ll recover from this.
Hiding robs you of freedom. It imprisons you, either in your room, in your loneliness, in your shame, in your assumptions, in the image you’ve got to constantly project to others.
God’s question to Adam “Where are you?” is not a request for a geographical update.
It’s a relational question, a question to begin reengagement: “Adam, I breathed into you, my Spirit into your being. You now live because through my Holy Spirit I am in you. You were made mask-free Adam, in my image, no photo-shopping or pretence needed, perfect the way you were. We walked and talked together. We had intimacy Adam. What happened? Where are you?”
This wasn’t asked to load Adam down further, but out of a heartfelt plea: “Adam, please, whatever you’re feeling, whatever mask you’ve donned, whatever you’re running from, please, come out of hiding?”
Ultimately, Adam was hiding due to fear. He was fearful as to how God would deal with him after he failed to say no to himself, to Eve, and to the devil. He was fearful as to whether there was still a future for him with God. He was fearful as perhaps he mused on what he needed to do in order to rectify the situation.
Fear is far deeper than being frightened. There’s the fear of missing out or life passing you by. Fear of not making the key relational connections count and thus ending up lonely or disconnected. Fear of not having enough. Fear of not being appreciated.
The devil has a vested interest in us cowering through a fear-filled life, for in so doing he seeks to negate the power of our identity.
Heavenly Father has a vested interest in us living loved. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18 ESV).
Simply put, the more we move outside of love, the more fearful we become. We revert to striving for a love we’ve already been given, anxious it won’t be ours. We’re suspicious of goodness, fearful God will shift the goalposts and require something of us to earn the love he’s already bestowing. Paralysed, we often find it easier to just hide.
The heartbeat of Jesus, dwelling among us full of grace and truth, is the Father’s loving initiative toward us in our hiding. Jesus, unmasked on the cross, vulnerable, carrying the fearful burden of the sin of humanity, is the Father’s way of bringing us home. He brings us out of seclusion, out of the pig pen, and into his embrace. Jesus alive, with the resurrection echoes of “Fear not”, is verification that all is not lost, but life is just beginning.
The wow of all that Jesus has done for us, means we can come out of hiding. We come out of bondage into freedom, out of fear into trust, out of resignation into faith, hope, and love.
Secure in the Father’s love, we can now live a life unmasked. Out of hiding, we now live in freedom instead of fear. We are free to take responsibility for our actions, to confess and apologise, to live transparently and vulnerably. We now know that meekness isn’t weakness; instead, it’s the courageous disposition of a person who has been unmasked by Father’s relentless love.
This is the freedom of life in Holy Spirit.
There is nothing more liberating than knowing you can look Father God in the eye, unmasked and unashamed thanks to Jesus, knowing that through Holy Spirit, his eye never ever left you in the first place.