When I read about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, there is not much I can relate to. I don’t know what it is like to be able to think or act without the traces of sin. I don’t know what it is like to see God’s creation without sin. I look forward to the day when I will understand more about Adam’s life. I long for the day when I will be with God, face-to-face in heaven.
Unfortunately, though, there is one aspect of Adam’s story that I can relate to. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, we are told, their eyes were opened. They saw their sin. They felt what they had done. They knew they were naked. They knew they were exposed.
We are told that they heard the sound of God walking in the garden. They then hid (Genesis 3:8). They couldn’t bear to be in God’s Presence and hoped that He would not find them that evening. Sadly, this is where I can relate.
I know what fleeing God’s Presence feels like. I know the feelings of shame and guilt. I know the pain in the gut. I have heard the lie that tells me I am unworthy to be a son. I have believed them at times. I have kept my face down at times because I didn’t want to look up at my loving Father. I, like Adam, have wanted to run away and hide.
But, what comfort there is in this story. God comes to Adam and Eve. He knew they had sinned. He knew the guilt and shame they felt. He knew they probably wanted to run. He knew they would feel unworthy to face Him.
Yet God still comes and shows His face. He rebuilds the relationship. He deals with the consequences of their actions and restores them so they can again seek His face. He even clothes them afterwards as a sign of His care and protection. God was wronged and yet He still came to them.
Ash Wednesday reminds us of this part of our relationship with God. We are reminded first and foremost that the Father keeps coming for His prodigal children. We hear the story again of a loving Father who sent His only Son, Jesus, to the Cross. We live again in the story of God’s forgiveness and grace.
This love allows us to come to Him with all our faults, our missteps and our willful wrong steps. We can come to God because we know He forgives. We know His desire is to restore the relationship. He shows us the path we need to take so that we can seek His face.
Yes I know what it means to hide from His Presence. I also know the joy of being restored and strengthened with resolve to do better.