Last week, I had the opportunity to share a short thought with the congregation regarding one of my favorite verses. My husband helped me put my thoughts into words. The following is what I shared. I hope you gain a blessing from it.
In 1943 Abraham Maslow, a renowned American psychologist, published what has become one of the leading theories of human psychological development. It is known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” In this theory, the first human need after our physical needs are fulfilled, is what Maslow called “Love and belonging.” I think that we could call it Relationship. Every human being, if one is honest with himself, has an innate passionate need for relationship. This characteristic began with God when He said, “Let us make man in our image…” I believe that was a statement of relationship…a God that wanted relationship with His creation. Relationship is bilateral. It goes two ways. He created that very same desire within each one of us.
Throughout the millennia, that desire has remained. Sin has not erased the need that we have for relationship. Nor, has it erased the desire that our God has for relationship with us. There are many verses that have become precious to me over the years, but one to which I am particularly drawn is Genesis 3:9. It’s a short phrase and may be seemingly insignificant, but for me it has great meaning. “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’”
Think about that! Adam and Eve had just discounted God’s love for them. They had doubted His benevolence and good will toward them. They had believed the lie. They had slapped Him in the face. But God, didn’t change his behavior toward them. Even though they had committed great offence toward God, He moved toward them in love. He sought them out, even in their sin.
How often as a child, young adult, and even as a wife and mother when I am angry and have perhaps behaved hurtfully, down deep in my heart I desperately desire someone to come to me and “know my heart” to seek me out, even in my darkness and sin? God did that for Adam and Eve. And He does that for me.
But not only do the words of God, “Where are you?” speak hope to me, they serve as an example of how I should treat others. The natural human heart, when wounded recoils from that which offended it. We naturally withdraw from our spouses, our children, our parents or our friends when we feel offended or hurt by them. But God’s example teaches us to seek them out. The words, “Where are you?” is packed full of other questions. “What’s going on with you?”, “What is the matter?” “What made you act that way?” It is an invitation for dialogue—an invitation to open your heart.
Putting the offense against God aside, and looking from the perspective of Adam and Eve, we see humans full of shame, regret, fear, and perhaps loneliness. Knowing the need of the human heart, it was in this condition that God came seeking them. He didn’t wait for them to “straighten up”. Because frankly, they were incapable.
In this season of Thanksgiving…a season of family and friends, I am so thankful first of all for a Father God that seeks us out, even in our mess, and secondly for an example of how I should behave toward others in my immediate family, my larger church family, and even to those people with whom I come into contact outside those spheres. To whom is it that I can purposely and meaningfully ask “Where are you?”