The Bible begins with tragic hiding.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman [Eve], "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' ""You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband [Adam], who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 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. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid. And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" The man said, "The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:1-13, NIV)
Hiding is the hallmark of the human will in an idolatrous struggle against God. For our own sake, God commands that we love and trust Him before anything or anyone else, since He alone is the Source of true peace (shalom). When we allow something or someone to diminish our loving and trusting God, we disobey Him, to our own detriment. Adam and Eve made idols of pleasure and wisdom, allowing them to hinder their loving and trusting God. Ashamed and afraid, Adam hides. We hide too when we permit something to detract from our loving and trusting God.
The hallmark of hiding is deception — the attempt to cover up the truth. Adam hid because he rebelled, not because he was naked. He was always naked. Having disobeyed God, he came to know that he was naked. He knew that he was naked because he had rebelled. His disobedience exposed his selfish willfulness, and he tried to cover up this rebellion. God, however, sees through fig leaves. Our hiding does not deceive Him.
Hiding reveals a will in deep conflict with itself and with God. It reveals our will to rebel against God. We struggle with accepting Him as the ultimate authority uniquely worthy of full love and trust. When we cling to idols, we place ourselves in the position of ultimate authority in our lives. We thereby demote God from that position. Adam and Eve put their desire for pleasure and knowledge above their desire to obey and to please God. This was a choice they made, even if influenced by the schemes and powers of darkness. The serpent did not cause them to disobey, despite Eve's attempt to suggest otherwise. Adam and Eve willfully chose to value pleasure and knowledge more than obeying, trusting, and loving God.
Contrary to initial appearance, our hiding acknowledges the authority of God. We hide precisely because we know that we have rebelled against God and we know that this is unacceptable. If God permitted our disobedience, there would be no need to hide from Him. We hide because we are afraid of the inevitable consequences of rebellion against God. Hiding thus reveals a conflict in a will that acknowledges yet rebels against divine authority.
Willful rebellion against the One who has given us life has fatal consequences. It leads to selfish fear, guilt, shame, and death. These painful experiences, one might think, would be enough to get us to stop rebelling against God and to yield our will to His. Our selfish willfulness, however, goes deep. Instead of turning back to God in repentance and forgiveness, we go into hiding. As tragic fugitives, we choose to hold on to the things that kill us rather than to the One who gives us life. Our escape in hiding, however, is no escape at all. It leads finally to failure and death.
The selfish fear behind hiding stems from either mistrust of God or ignorance about who God is. I fear the consequences of my rebellion because either I will not trust that God will forgive me or I do not know that in Jesus God has offered us, as a free and undeserved gift, the means of reconciling us to loving friendship with God. Jesus, however, shows that we have no need to fear coming to the God against whom we have rebelled. As a result, we have no need to hide from the living God. Jesus proves that his Father is merciful even in the face of our rebellion against Him (see Luke 15:11-32).
In the face of our rebellion against God, we desperately need forgiveness and reconciliation, and we cannot supply these on our own. We have wronged God, and we are in no position to demand forgiveness or reconciliation. Our selfish willfulness leads to rebellion, and our selfish fear puts us in hiding. Nothing we can do will repair the damage we have done to our relationship with God. Forgiveness and reconciliation must come, if they come at all, as unearned gifts from God. Amazingly, in His great mercy, God the gift Giver comes looking for us when we are hiding from Him. He knows that we are in trouble, and He eagerly wants to help us. He knows that our selfish fear, guilt, and shame will keep us from coming back to Him. He offers to repair the damaged relationship as a free gift to us. He sends Jesus to show that His merciful love is undying and that He is eager to befriend us, His rebellious enemies. He counts the crucified and risen Jesus as the one who pays the price for our reconciliation to Himself. He befriends us indeed, in amazing grace and wondrous love. His mercy is, by any standard, immeasurable and unmatched.
Sometimes we hide behind a challenge for God: will God come to find me and not to harm me? Will God love me despite the ugliness I try to hide? We seem to have no answer, until we consider Jesus. He has seen the ugliness I try to hide. He knows what is there. Even so, he comes not to condemn us but to save us (John 3:17). We have no need to hide from him. He wants to take away our burden of fear and hiding. We must be willing, sincerely willing. This is crucial to entering into a relationship with Jesus as Lord. We will not be coerced by God. He seeks willing participants in a lasting friendship.
friendship with Jesus, my relationship with God is restored. I then have no
need to hide. I am forgiven for the ways I have rebelled against God and harmed
the relationship that gives me life. By God's power, I can be released from
the bondage of selfish fear, guilt, and shame. God's gracious gift of His Son
Jesus gives us the way to free and lasting life. Will we accept this way?
never easy when You come
to call me out of hiding.
Such shame and guilt surround my heart,
the darkness feels like home.
And yet I know I must come out.
There's nowhere else to go.
This hiding place imprisons me
and stifles every breath.
You call to bring me into Light,
to cleanse me of my guilt.
My fear betrays my lack of trust.
You come to set me free.
You find the broken places
that my hiding covers up.
You find the very heart of me.
You want to be my friend.
awesome is this gift of Grace
for me so undeserving.
How can I not but run to You
and finally end my hiding?