“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” —Genesis 3:8
In this story from Genesis, the first man and woman directly disobey the command of their Creator God. When they hear God nearby, they hide. They don’t want an encounter with God.
This strikes me as a very natural reaction. When I’m embarrassed, ashamed, or disappointed in myself, I’m generally not interested in interacting with anyone at all, much less the people I’ve directly let down or harmed.
And yet, if we just step back a little, we notice that this response, in Adam and Eve’s case, is completely ridiculous. To try to hide from God is like standing on stage in a crowded theatre (remember when those were a thing?) in the center of the spotlight and hoping that if you just stay very, very still, no one will be able to see you.
In Psalm 139, David reflects on the impossibility of escaping God’s presence: “Where can I I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
But this is not something to be feared! In Romans 5, the apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus gave his life for us, not under illusions about our sinfulness, but knowing full well that we are sinners: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So, when I’m feeling ashamed, when I’m aware that I’ve failed—and when you’re feeling ashamed, when you’re aware that you’ve failed—may we not try to hide from God’s presence (it won’t work anyway). May we instead draw close to God, knowing that he sacrificed himself for us precisely when we were least deserving. That is love, real love.